Islamabad, June 26 : The Pakistan government has passed an Election (Amendment) Act 2023, paving the way for former former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s return to politics.
Following the approval by the Senate, the National Assembly on Sunday also gave its nod to the new legislation which has given the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) unilateral powers to fix poll dates and limit the disqualifications of any lawmaker to a period of five years.
This will enable the return of the former premier and PML-N supremo, who was disqualified for life by the Supreme Court in the assets beyond means case.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in any other provision of this Act, any other law for the time being in force and judgment, order or decree of any court, including the Supreme Court and a high court, the disqualification of a person to be elected, chosen or to remain as a member of the Parliament or provincial assembly under paragraph (f) of clause (1) of Article 62 of the Constitution shall be for a period not exceeding five years from the declaration of the court of law in that regard and such declaration shall be subject to the due process of law,” the law states.
Another senior politician who will benefit from the latest amendment is Jahangir Tareen, head of the newly-formed Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP), who also was disqualified for life by the apex court on charges of corruption.
After being presented and tabled in Parliament, the bill was opposed by some lawmakers, who termed it as a person-specific legislation, aimed to benefit specific personalities.
“Incorporating proposed amendments in the elections commission’s bill was person-specific legislation” said Maulana Akbar Chitrali of Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan.
After its approval by both the Senate and National Assembly, the amendment will need a final nod from President Arif Alvi, who currently is in Saudi Arabia to perform Haj.
Senate Chariman Sadiq Sanjrani is performing duties as the acting President.
The government defended its position on the amendment, stating that a lifetime disqualification was against the fundamental constitutional rights of a politician.
However, political experts opine that the bill could be scrapped if challenged in the Supreme Court.
“The bill could not abolish the lifetime disqualification of lawmakers and it could be scrapped if challenged in the Supreme Court,” said Ahmed Bilal Mehboob.