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November 16, 2017

Parliamentary parties agree to new delimitation of constituencies

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November 16, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary parties’ heads on Wednesday agreed to a constitutional amendment for the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of census’s provisional results, but the final decision will be announced today (Thursday) prior to the National Assembly session which has especially been summoned for legislation on the constitutional amendment. 

Though the approval for the constitutional amendment was expected on Wednesday but, due to the absence of the Pakistan People’s Party, it was decided to give the formal approval for paving the way for the amendment today (Thursday) in the presence of PPP leaders. It was also decided in the meeting on Thursday, the approval for the revival of Section 7 (b) and 7 (c) as well as the oath for the finality of the Prophethood in the election forms would be given for legislation.

The meeting was held at the Parliament House with NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq in the chair. The headway was made possible only after the government accepted the PPP demand for taking up the issue in the Council of Common Interests. It was also decided that provincial assemblies’ seats would remain the same like that of the National Assembly. 

During the meeting, Sadiq phoned Khursheed Shah to ensure his party’s support for the constitutional amendment for assemblies’ seats and revival of the election form with Section 7 (a) and 7 (c).

Talking to newsmen after the meeting, Sadiq said a consensus had been developed on the constitutional amendment, but another session of the Parliamentary Heads Committee would be held today (Thursday) due to the PPP’s absence. “There was also consensus to reaffirm the finality of the Prophethood and legislation would be made in the upcoming session of the National Assembly,” he said.

He said the opposition leader was in Karachi and would reach Islamabad on Thursday. On telephone, he supported the meeting on the issue of delimitation of constituencies. “We will try to pass the constitutional amendment in the National Assembly on Thursday and approval for 7(b) and 7 (c) would also be given,” he said.

Talking to newsmen, PTI deputy parliamentary leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the PPP did not attend Wednesday’s meeting as it had reservations. If their reservations were removed in Thursday’s meeting, the issue would be resolved. He said the issue of the finality of the Prophethood was a sensitive matter which needed to be resolved. “The government has accepted the mistake which is a positive sign and now the issue needs to be settled.”

Housing and Works Minister Akram Durrani said Khursheed Shah supported the amendment on phone. “But the objection raised by Shah Mehmood Qureshi would be discussed on Thursday,” he said, adding that the JUI-F raised the issue of revival of sections 7 (b) and 7 (c). By that time, the PTI and the PPP had not agreed, but now they agreed that was a positive sign.

Sheikh Rasheed said legislation for restoring the words on the finality of the Prophethood would be done on Thursday. “It is a sensitive issue which needs to be settled immediately,” he said. “If legislation on 7 (b) and 7 (c) is not done on Thursday, we will not vote for the constitutional amendment.”

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, however, raised objections to the amendment once again in Wednesday's meeting, accusing the government of dismissing Sindh's concerns over the census.

The Section 7 (b) says that the status of Ahmadis remains as stated in the Constitution of Pakistan, while Section 7 (c) states that if an enrolled voter's belief in the finality of the Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) is contended, he shall have to sign a declaration stating so, failing which his "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".

Under the Delimitation Bill 2017, though the number of general seats will remain 272, there would be a change in provincial allocations on the basis of provisional census results as Punjab will lose seven general seats and two reserved seats. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will get five more seats including four general and one reserved.

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