Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Shehbaz Sharif has decided to call an all-party conference (APC) of the opposition to discuss the Election Amendment Bill introduced by the government.
The proposal for an all-parties conference has the support of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. The two leaders agreed on the APC after Shehbaz called them for their input.
All opposition parties will be invited to APC, Shehbaz said. Various organisations and institutions monitoring the elections will also be invited to the APC, he added.
According to PPP insiders, Bilawal told Shehbaz that the APC could be an important opportunity for developing national consensus on holding transparent and free elections
ECP OBJECTS: Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has also objected to the election bill.
The ECP has informed the federal government that 13 sections of the National Assembly-approved Election Amendment Bill are in conflict with the Constitution.
The ECP contacted the federal government via the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs about its reservations through a letter. The letter was written by the ECP secretary to his counterpart at the ministry.
The ECP said that the demarcation of constituencies based on voters rather than the population is not in line with the constitution.
“The rights regarding the voters’ list are under the purview of the ECP and 13 provisions of the proposed Election Act are unconstitutional,” said the ECP secretary in the letter.
It also said that using the open ballot method instead of secret voting for the Senate polls conflicts with the opinion given by the Supreme Court.
ELECTION AMENDMENT BILL: The Election (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in the National Assembly on October 16, 2020. It was referred to the Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs the same day.
Likewise, the House also passed the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill which pertains to the fair, free and transparent election through utilisation of technology and modern gadgets.
The bill is also aimed at granting voting rights to the Overseas Pakistanis which may only be possible by vesting exclusive authority in the ECP with the technical assistance of NADRA and other agencies.
Amendments were sought in section 94 and 103 of the Election Act, 2017, to achieve the aforesaid objectives.