Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pakistan: New amendment into Election Act 2017 could reclassify scores of Sunnis to Ahmadiyyas


In order to promote true democratic culture, we need to focus on democratic values where our representatives should be judged more by their competency as lawmakers and by their moral and financial integrity than their religious outlook.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | Int'l Desk
Source/Credit: The Express Tribune
By Editorial | November 20, 2017

Let’s not open the floodgates

Members of parliament have introduced a third amendment into the Elections Act 2017 that was adopted last month. The fresh clause – simply known by the moniker 48-A – borrows a bit too heavily from clause 7B and 7C of the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002 and finds itself inserted into the election law. Under the newly adopted law, if any citizen files an application against any voter that he is not a Muslim, the relevant officer in charge of the electoral rolls of that area would send a notice to the person against whom objection has been raised. The accused would be required to appear before the revising authority or ECP official within 15 days and sign a declaration regarding his/her belief about the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him).

In case this person does not sign the prescribed declaration, or does not turn up before the officer in charge,  he/she would be deemed to be a non-Muslim and his/her name would be deleted from the joint electoral rolls and would be added instead to a supplementary list of voters in the same electoral area as a non-Muslim. The government claims the amendment was made to restore the declaration for voters regarding Khatm-i-Nabuwwat. The objective was to keep the status of the Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslims intact. Ahmadi voters are added in a separate voter list for non-Muslims.

In the religiously charged atmosphere there was hardly any room to lawmakers to have a thorough debate on the bill. Some lawmakers, particularly from the opposition, raised meek but valid questions over the manner in which this law was adopted by parliament.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan has questioned the timing of the law. It seems to have been passed under duress. True. Parliament has adopted it at a time when protesters belonging to some religious groups were staging a sit-in at a key artery connecting Islamabad with Rawalpindi. By blocking the road they have crippled the flow of traffic between the twin cities, despite the Islamabad High Court’s order to vacate the road. The court had previously proposed that such rallies should be held only at the designated Parade Ground protest site. Adopting the law at this point of time does send out the wrong message. Pressure groups are thereby encouraged to hold sit-ins in the federal capital, pressurise parliament and get it to enact laws of their own choice.

Another objection raised against the move is the omission of the time-limit for complaints about a voter. Previously, objections about the faith of a voter could be raised within 10 days of the finalisation of electoral rolls. Objections can now be filed at any given time. This opens the way to the misuse of the law. In case hundreds of people do file objections, it would spark chaos. Moreover, the new law does not have any safeguards to discourage false accusers. Unfortunately, we have a history of misusing the law especially the religiously motivated ones. The laws on blasphemy are prime examples. In order to promote true democratic culture, we need to focus on democratic values where our representatives should be judged more by their competency as lawmakers and by their moral and financial integrity than their religious outlook.

There are several observations by the superior judiciary asking parliament to elucidate vague religious clauses inculcated during General Ziaul Haq’s era in Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution related to qualification and disqualification of a candidate to run in elections. And with national elections due next year, it is time the election authorities devise a mechanism for tangible scrutiny of candidates by going through their financial records before accepting their nomination papers. Similarly, the ECP should make sure that all marginalised groups, including women and religious minorities, can participate in the electoral process freely.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2017.


Read original post here: Pakistan: New amendment into Election Act 2017 could classify scores of Sunnis to Ahmadiyyas


This content-post is archived for backup and to keep archived records of any news Islam Ahmadiyya. The views expressed by the author and source of this news archive do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Times of Ahmad. Times of Ahmad is not an organ of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, nor in any way associated with any of the community's official websites.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments. Any comments irrelevant to the post's subject matter, containing abuses, and/or vulgar language will not be approved.

Top read stories during last 7 days

Disclaimer!

THE TIMES OF AHMAD is not an organ of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, nor in any way associated with any of the community's official websites. Times of Ahmad is an independently run and privately managed news / contents archival website; and does not claim to speak for or represent the official views of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The Times of Ahmad assumes full responsibility for the contents of its web pages. The views expressed by the authors and sources of the news archives do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Times of Ahmad. All rights associated with any contents archived / stored on this website remain the property of the original owners.