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Senate committee asks govt to withdraw bill

Senate committee asks govt to withdraw bill

ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee asked the government on Tuesday to withdraw the Electoral Laws (Amendment) Bill 2013 giving voting right to overseas Pakistanis since the proposal was being considered by the special parliamentary committee on electoral reforms.

The Senate’ standing committee on law, justice and human rights headed by Javed Abbasi of the PML-N was also given a presentation by an official of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on proposals for eradication of corruption from government departments and regulatory bodies.

Besides, the committee deferred a constitutional amendment bill moved by Hafiz Hamdullah of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) seeking repeal of the constitutional provision that allowed non-Muslims to consume liquor. The bill was opposed by PPP members of the committee who termed it a “sensitive issue.”

Take a look: SC asked to allow overseas Pakistanis to vote in LG polls

The committee’s meeting witnessed an interesting exchange of remarks between the PPP’s Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Hafiz Hamdullah during the discussion on the bill.

Mr Ahsan said that religions other than Islam allowed their followers to consume liquor and, therefore, the provision should not be touched. The JUI-F Senator, however, insisted on his position and offered to withdraw the bill if proven wrong.

Mr Ahsan said that minorities were already facing difficulties and, therefore, such sensitive matters should not be touched at all.

He expressed the fear that he could become a target of a bullet as he would be dubbed an opponent of the bill that barred use of liquor in the country. In a lighter tone, he said that if anything happened to him, Mr Hamdullah would be responsible for it.

The committee also de­ferred a discussion on an­other constitutional amend­ment bill giving constitutional cover to local governments in cantonments and Islamabad.

The mover of the bill, independent senator Mohsin Leghari, was asked to wait for final recommendations of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, which was expected to take up the issue.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2015

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