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The government has decided to amend Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid announced on Tuesday.

The law minister made the announcement on the floor of the National Assembly during a session called to debate amendments to the proposed election law put forward by opposition parties.

He stated in response that the government will take up the matter with the reforms committee.

The government also rejected a suggestion put forth by Muttahida Qaumi Movement asking for the duration of disqualification to be set for a maximum of five years.

The new legislation states that the president will have to consult the Election Commission of Pakistan before announcing the date for general elections.

Noting that there was no explicit duration for disqualification set under the current law, the law minister said, “We want the duration of disqualification to be less than five years.”

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The National Assembly on Tuesday approved the Election Bill 2017 after Law Minister Zahid Hamid presented the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms’ (PCER) report before the House.

The new legislation states that the president will have to consult the Election Commission of Pakistan before announcing the date for general elections.

Under the proposed law, the ECP will be bound to submit an annual report of its performance to the government, which will be presented before the federal and provincial assemblies.

Basic outline of the new legislation:

Anyone who captures image of the ballot papers or shows their vote to others will face the same punishment.

Every political party will have to hold intra-party elections every five years.

Handicapped people will be able to cast their vote through postal service.

Election tribunals will comprise serving judges instead of retired ones.

ECP will have the authority to take action against polling staff for negligence.

Bail of any candidate, who receives less than one-fourth of the total votes, will be confiscated.

ECP will no longer have the authority to make any changes in nomination papers of the candidates.

Candidates will now have 28 instead of 21 days for running the election campaign.

Votes of male and female voters will be counted separately in the general elections.

Limits will be imposed on the budget spent on campaigning by political parties.

Expressing anger at the opposition for raising objections, the law minister asked why the objections were not raised during the ‘exhaustive’ consultation process.

Returning officers will not have the authority to publish extra ballot papers.

The lawmakers will be required to submit wealth statements every year.

Anyone who intimidates or harms ECP staff will have to pay a fine of Rs0.1 million or will be sent to jail for two years.

Read More: Physical brawl ensues in Pakistan’s National Assembly when lawmakers disagree

The National Assembly concluded the debate on the proposed election law, during which almost all opposition parties raised objections over various clauses of a proposed bill.

Expressing anger at the opposition for raising objections, the law minister asked why the objections were not raised during the ‘exhaustive’ consultation process.

Earlier, the leader of Opposition in National Assembly (NA) Khursheed Shah strictly criticised the government for the thin attendance on treasury benches.

The opposition was fully cooperating with the government but the government itself was not taking the Parliament seriously, he complained.

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