Following the controversy surrounding an ‘amendment’ to the Elections Act 2017 which ended up affecting a Khatm-i-Naboowat (finality of prophethood) declaration public office holders are required to make, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq on Wednesday accepted that a “clerical error” had been made and invited parliamentary leaders in his chamber to discuss the matter.
Parliamentarians on Tuesday had pointed out that the wordings of Form-A, which is submitted at the time of the election by candidates, had been changed so that it was turned into a declaration form instead of an affidavit, in which candidates are put under oath.
In the new Form-A, the words “I solemnly swear” have been replaced with “I believe” in a clause relating to a candidate’s belief in the finality of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad and it had not been made applicable to non-Muslim candidates.
Law Minister Zahid Hamid had denied the change when it was brought up on Tuesday, vociferously defending the Elections Act 2017 as a joint effort of all political parties.
However, Sadiq on Wednesday met with parliamentary leaders to discuss the issue.
Speaking after the meeting, Sadiq said that parliamentary leaders had decided that the original form of the affidavit will be kept intact. The assembly will make an amendment to this effect on Thursday, he said.
After the meeting, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that his party had also suggested that Clause 203 of the Elections Act 2017 should also be reverted to its original form as it is controversial and has been challenged in the courts.
Changes brought via Clause 203 of the act had paved the way for Nawaz Sharif to return as PML-N president.