Senate restores moral credibility by amending controversial election clause
The PML (N) government has an unenviable record of bulldozing its controversial legislation in an unparliamentary, sometimes almost fly-by-night manner, whenever it possesses brute majority.But in the not insignificant matter of the amendment moved by PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan on 2ndOctober to clause 203 of the Election Bill 2017, barring a disqualified legislator from heading a political party, the united opposition despite its Senate majority itself handed an embarrassing political victory to the PML(N) by losing the motion by a solitary vote, ostensibly due to lack of coordination and that arch-culprit of any failure, over-confidence.
Though some suspicious aspects of the affair possibly mask deviousness on both sides of the parliamentary divide, the PML (N) pulled off an opportune coup by this unlikely win, the opposition suffered a humiliating loss of credibility by the fiasco, while a distressing question mark also hung over the entire mechanics of our political system. The passage of this clause was brazenly Nawaz Sharif-specific, allowing the ousted Prime Minister, unseated by the July 28 Supreme Court ruling,to reenter the political arena through the back door as elected president of his party.Seen from any angle, a distressing anomaly and contradiction.
The ensuing hue and cry led first to passage by 52-28 votes of a Senate resolution on October 11 by a chastened and unified opposition, endorsing its earlier defeated stance, and on Monday doing further penance for the original sin by moving another amendment to Election Act 2017, reiterating the party-leadership ban on a disqualified person by 49-18 votes.. While it is true the debarring clause was first inserted by military dictators, it is clearly the need of the hour at this juncture to avert political opportunism or adventurism of one individual.
But with the PML (N)’s clear majority (albeit now standing on slippery ground with dissidents emerging) in the National Assembly, the Senate’s spilt-milk victory is more moral than legal, and it rests squarely on Nawaz Sharif to large-heartedly distance himself from this perilous no-win situation and resign as party head till final resolution of his multiple court cases.