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Parliamentarian agreed to pass amendment for delimitation of constituencies

16 November, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Political parties’ stalemate on the issue of delimitations finally ended on Wednesday, as parliamentary leaders agreed to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional data of the recently held population census.

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq chaired the meeting in this regard, during which the leaders agreed that the Lower House would approve the bill allowing the amendment during today’s (Thursday’s) session.

Since the PPP’s leaders were not present, a meeting had been arranged at 2pm today to secure their approval on the matter.

The breakthrough had been achieved following a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) on Monday, during which Sindh’s lawmakers had agreed to hold the next general election on the basis of provisional data, but only after a third-party audit of certain population blocks.

The PPP had previously demanded that the amendment should be approved by the CCI before seeking the National Assembly’s nod.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement, however, raised objections over the amendment once again in Wednesday’s meeting, accusing the government of dismissing Sindh’s concerns over the population census. The party had earlier suggested that delimitation should be conducted based on the voters’ lists instead of recently held headcount.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid had tabled the constitutional amendment in the National Assembly on November 2 after an “agreement” among all political parties was reached following a two-day meeting of all parliamentary leaders.

However, the MQM and the PPP had raised objections, with the latter calling the move “unconstitutional”. It was subsequently returned for further deliberation.

The parliamentary leaders also agreed to table a bill in the Lower House to restore sections 7B and 7C of The Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002, to their original shape.

In the Elections Act 2017, the above-mentioned sections relating to the status of Ahmadis had been omitted.

Section 7B says that the status of Ahmadis remains as stated in the constitution of Pakistan, while Section 7C states that if an enrolled voter’s belief in the finality of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) prophethood is contended, they shall have to sign a declaration stating so, failing which their “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.”

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