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Raja Zafarul Haq committee report on controversial amendment comes to light – Pakistan



A report compiled by the committee formed to fix responsibility for the introduction of the controversial amendment to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat declaration for electoral candidates in the Elections Act, 2017, came to light on Monday.

The report, a copy of which is available with DawnNews, says that the authorities, to whom the report will be submitted, should use their “good vision and good sense” to take action against those who were responsible for the controversial amendment.

A three-member committee, comprising Raja Zafarul Haq, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan compiled the report on the directives of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui in the order issued on Nov 24, while hearing petitions filed by religious parties, had directed the secretary ministry of interior to ensure production of the report of the committee headed by Senator Raja Zafarul Haq. He had also directed that the “report shall not be made public till next date of hearing.”

To start their investigation, the three ministers reportedly procured “the original bill, the amended form and the verbatim of the Senate proceedings” to look at the language used by the lawmakers of various parties and the amendments that were proposed during the Senate session.

The report reads that several amendments were proposed during the proceedings of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice, but none related to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat affirmation.

“It was only after the bill was sent by the standing committee to the House that Hafiz Hamdullah, a senator from JUI-F, objected to the change in the language of the solemn affirmation,” the report points out.

It goes on to read that the PML-N supported the JUI senator, however, by that time the bill had already been tabled in the National Assembly, and “a general realisation dawned upon the members from all the parties that they had committed a mistake” which needs to be corrected.

‘”But due to a rumpus created by the opposition regarding Section 203, the bill was passed as amended and then it was sent to the Senate for the final passage.”

The bill was passed in the Senate and subsequently corrected, however, the committee was formed to probe the matter and find out those responsible for the error.

According to the report, several meetings were held with various concerned people — whose names have been redacted in the version received by DawnNews — after which one person admitted that it was his “primary responsibility to see that the draft does not contain anything controversial but somehow he felt that he could not perform his duty despite his legal acumen, experience and command of the language.”

Members of the committee said they later read the statement of JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman in a newspaper, saying we were “collectively responsible for not doing our duty during the debate on the affidavits.”

“We have a feeling that people are expecting action against those who changed the affirmation and caused this problem,” the report said.

“In light of the above, we suggest that an action must be taken against those responsible but we leave it to your vision and good sense,” it added.

The change in the language of the candidates’ declaration form through a controversial amendment to the Elections Act, 2017, had provoked religious parties as they alleged that this had intentionally been made to fulfill the western agenda.

Though the Parliament rectified this mistake, the religious parties sought the resignation of federal law minister Zahid Hamid and started a sit-in at Faizabad.

The report has not been submitted to any office as yet.



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