Only PPP opposing delimitations bill: Ayaz

ISLAMABAD – The government will table constitutional amendment to allow holding of general elections on the basis of recently held census and a bill to restore the clauses of the Khatme Nabuwat, amended in election act 2017, to its original form, in Thursday’s session, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said on Wednesday.

Sadiq told media after the parliamentary parties meeting that all the parties except the PPP had agreed that the delimitation bill would be tabled in the lower house for approval.

He said during the session, the changes in oath regarding finality of prophethood would also be revived to its previous wording.

We have also agreed to take up the 7b and 7c — Khatme Nabuwat (controversy in public opinion) to re-affirm it, in due course, after consulting the PPP, Sadiq said.

Explaining absence of the PPP from the meeting, he said that they would reach Islamabad tomorrow and would attend the parliamentary leaders meeting scheduled at 2pm.

The matter will again be deliberated upon in the presence of the PPP, Sadiq added.

President Mamnoon Hussain on Wednesday morning summoned the National Assembly session at 4pm, Thursday (today).

The parliamentary leaders meeting has been scheduled at 2pm, to discuss the delimitation issue again.  This would be the 6th meeting of leaders of the parliamentary parties on the delimitation issue.

Many believe reservations of some political parties still persist on delimitation bill as they have been objecting provisional results of the recent census.

The MQM and the PPP have raised their concerns regarding the census and have been criticising the government for delaying in addressing them.

The government announced reaching a breakthrough in the recent Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting on Monday, which was called at the demand of the PPP.

Lawmakers from Sindh reportedly agreed to hold elections on the basis of provisional results, if the government holds a third-party audit of certain population blocks.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement, however, raised objections over the amendment once again in the meeting, accusing the government of dismissing Sindh’s concerns over the recent census.

The party had earlier suggested that delimitation should be conducted based on voter lists instead of recently-held census data.

The constitutional amendment aimed at allowing holding of next general elections on the basis of provisional results of recently held census was tabled in the National Assembly on November 2 after reaching an agreement among all political parties.

But after the amendment was tabled in the lower house, the MQM, the PPP and then the PTI objected to it.

According to the speaker, the parliamentary leaders also agreed to table a bill in the lower house during upcoming session, to restore Sections 7B and 7C of The Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002 in its original shape.

In the Elections Act 2017, the wordings of Form-A – submitted at the time of election by candidates- had been changed into a declaration form instead of an affidavit, which puts a candidate under oath.

The words in Form-A “I solemnly swear” had been replaced with “I believe” in a clause relating to a candidate’s belief in the finality of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad, and it had been made not applicable to non-Muslim candidates.

Sections 7B and 7C of The Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002, which relate to the status of Ahmadis, had also been omitted from Elections Act 2017.

“The status of Quadiani Group or the Lahori Group (who call themselves “Ahmadis” or by any other name) or a person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last of the prophets or claimed or claims to be a Prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after Muhammad (peace be upon him) or recognises such a claimant as a Prophet or religious reformer shall remain the same as provided in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973,” said the Section 7b of the Conduct of General Election Order, 2002.

The Section C explains that if someone got himself enrolled as voter and objection is filed before the revising authority that such voter is not Muslim, he would have to sign a declaration regarding his belief about the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Form-IV prescribed under the Electoral Rolls Rules, 1974.

If he refuses to sign the declaration he shall be deemed to be a non-Muslim and his name shall be deleted from the joint electoral rolls and added to a supplementary list of voters in the same electoral area as non-Muslim.

Pakistan’s parliament declared Ahmadis non-Muslims and a minority in 1974 —  after long deliberations among the lawmakers and representatives of the Ahmadiya community including Mirza Nasir Ahmad, the third successor of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed – the founder of Qadiyani religion and self-acclaimed prophet.

The matter was taken up in the parliament following a bloody clash between students of Nishtar Medical College, Multan and Ahmadis in the mid of 1974, at Rabwah Railway Station.

West has been demanding Pakistan to accept Ahmadis as a sect of Muslims, and to stop human rights violations against them.

The United States at the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan meeting held at Geneva, on Monday, demanded Pakistan to repeal blasphemy laws and restrictions and end their use against Ahmadi Muslims and others and grant the visit request of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

 

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