Pakistan parliament passes electoral reforms bill

Islamabad: The National Assembly of Pakistan passed the Election Reforms Bill 2017 on Monday amid protest by the opposition.

The bill was presented by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid in the parliament where it was smoothly passed by the lawmakers.

The bill needed simple majority to be passed in the 342- member house, and it got most of the votes from ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party and its allies which have altogether more than 200 seats in the lower house.

The bill was earlier passed by the NA and was sent to the country’s Upper House for approval.

The Senate passed the bill with some amendments and sent it back to the NA for fresh polling.

The bill will be later sent to President Mamnoon Hussain and it will be a part of the law after his approval.

The earlier Political Parties Order (PPO) said that “a person shall not be appointed or serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being, elected or chosen as a member of Parliament under Article 63 of the Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force.”

But with the freshly tabled reforms, it states that “every citizen, not being in the service of Pakistan, has the right to form or be a member of a political party or be otherwise associated with a political party or take part in political activities or be elected as an office-bearer of a political party.”

The opposition protested against the bill in the NA and chanted slogans against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of (PML-N), who was ousted by the court on corruption charges.

Sharif also had to step down as PML-Ns leader after his disqualification due to the clauses in the previous PPO.

The opposition said that the reforms in the electoral policy are being made to help Sharif lead the party again.

Opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said that they will challenge the bill in court.