ISLAMABAD - The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that restored the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat declaration for electoral candidates amid demand of lawmakers for launching an impartial probe to fix responsibility for tampering with the declaration form.

The bill that has amended the Elections Act, 2017 was unanimously adopted by the House amid thumping desks minutes after Law Minister Zahid Hamid introduced it on the floor of the Upper House. The National Assembly has already passed it.

However, the opposition benches demanded from the government to fix the responsibility as to who was behind controversial amendment in the declaration form about Khtm-i-Nabuwwat –the finality of Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) — for election candidates in the newly-passed Elections Act, 2017. 

The opposition lawmakers demanded that a parliamentary committee comprising opposition parties, instead of the already formed three-member committee of the ruling party, should be formed to fix responsibility.

Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani informed the House that such a demand from the opposition benches had already been made in the House Business Advisory Committee and the government had sought time to develop consensus on it.

PML-Q Senator Kamal Ali Agha said that a grave crime was committed by making changes in the declaration form, using the word declaration instead of an oath, and responsibility should be fixed. He pointed out that the law minister first said that no changes had been made in the declaration form and then the government admitted that it was a clerical mistake. He demanded the formation of a judicial commission to probe the matter. Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Sirajul Haq called for the formation of a parliamentary committee comprising opposition members.

The law minister again clarified that the impression was wrong that it was the mistake of the government. He reiterated that he had firm belief in Khtm-i-Nabuwwat. He said that there was more room to improve the law in this regard.

The change in the language of the candidates’ declaration form through Elections Act, 2017 had enraged religious and political parties who had threatened to launch an agitation, which they claimed had been made intentionally. Sensing the situation, the government had agreed to amend the bill and restore the declaration form through its original form.

PML-N chief and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif last Saturday constituted a three-member committee of the ruling party to fix responsibility for the controversial amendment. The committee is headed by PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq and comprised of Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan, who is also the climate change minister.