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Pakistan

Joint session of Parliament approves amendments to Election Act 2017

  • Amendment grants caretaker government powers to take important decisions on existing bilateral or multilateral agreements
Published July 26, 2023

A joint session of the Parliament on Wednesday approved amendments to the Election Act 2017, granting the caretaker government powers to take actions or decisions regarding ongoing bilateral or multilateral agreements and projects, Aaj News reported.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi presented the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Sub-clauses 1 and 2 of Section 230 of the election act related to the functioning of the caretaker government have been amended.

Under the amendments, the interim setup has been empowered to take action on the ongoing bilateral and multilateral agreements, mainly related to the economy, but cannot sign any new agreement and make decisions on bilateral and multilateral agreements.

Earlier, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar had informed the house that no further amendments would be made to the Election amendment bill.

The PML-N on Sunday announced that an amendment was being introduced to empower the interim setup to have powers similar to that of an elected government.

The proposed changes to Section 230 aimed at extending the caretaker government’s jurisdiction. The goal was to empower it to handle regular governance affairs and ‘urgent matters’, broadening its remit significantly.

However, during a joint session of the Parliament on Tuesday, objections were raised to the amendment, after which it was deferred for a day.

Interestingly, this legislative action comes on the heels of speculations that Ishaq Dar is a top contender for the caretaker prime minister’s role. The unfolding political landscape continues to keep us on our toes.

Caretaker powers

Meanwhile, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said he had no objection to other amendments to the Election Act 2017.

“Section 230, as it stood yesterday, was opposed by a lot of members who had several observations against it. I am grateful to the law minister that he keep yesterday’s discussion in view and this is the beauty of the Parliament that the government is guided by the wisdom of the House.”

He asserted that wisdom prevailed, so sub-clauses 1 and 2 of the amendment had been deleted.

However, at the same time, Rabbani said: “I believe that the powers, no matter what the exigencies that are existing, these powers should not be with the caretaker government.”

On the other hand, PTI Senator Ali Zafar said that a caretaker government could not replace an elected representative government.

“The sole responsibility of the caretaker government is to hold fair, transparent and timely elections. The caretaker government can only run the day-to-day administrative affairs of the country.”

Zafar added that if the caretaker government was given the powers of an elected government, it would be tantamount to trampling the Constitution.

“If the parliament doesn’t reject it today, the Supreme Court will strike it down in the next few days,” the PTI senator warned.

Comments

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KU Jul 26, 2023 05:26pm
The devil will be in details, to date no one knows what amendments have been made or why the bill was necessary in the first place. But we deserve it, mere citizens!
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AmirSh. Jul 26, 2023 08:56pm
Might is always right in Pakistan. Is it a good or bad thing for our beloved motherland? Time will tell that.
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