BY IFTIKHAR MASHWANI
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Friday passed Election Bill 2017 with majority vote, apparently paving way for ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to assume leadership of his party.
On July 28, Sharif was disqualified by Supreme Court from holding office for life over the Panama Papers scandal. The documents had revealed that his family owned several illegally acquired offshore properties and businesses.
Before today’s legislation, the laws of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) barred a disqualified person from being leader of his party.
But now the legislation will pave the way for Nawaz Sharif to become chief of his own faction of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz despite being disqualified by the apex court.
Calling it a major success of democratic forces, PML-N’s senior leader Mushahid Ullah Khan confirmed that passage of the bill would pave the way for Nawaz Sharif to become PML-N President.
On the other hand, the opposition has reacted strongly over the legislation, calling it mockery of the constitution.
“The rule party is ridiculing law and the constitution of Pakistan with such legislations. This is beginning of the destruction,” said Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed while speaking to Samaa.
He vowed to challenge the lawmaking in the Supreme Court.
The bill, already passed by the National Assembly, was moved by Minister for Law Zahid Hamid.
The Election Bill 2017 also includes the some incorporate amendments moved by Opposition members.
Speaking in the Senate, the Law Minister said long and protracted deliberations were held to craft this consensus document.
He said the bill envisages reforms to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country.