The Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order for the reversal of changes to Clause 241 of the Elections Act, 2017, marked a major victory for religious parties, including the Tehrik Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, Mili Muslim League (MML) and Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) on Tuesday.
IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui made the decision while hearing the petition lodged by Tehreek Khatm-e-Nabuwwat supporter Allah Wasaya challenging a controversial amendment to the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat oath in the constitution ─ which had been termed a ‘clerical error’ by the federal government and subsequently rectified.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Awami Muslim League (AML) also challenged the Election Act, 2017, which paved the way for Nawaz Sharif to become the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had also challenged the election bill.
The vast majority of religious parties, however, were majorly disinterested in Mian Nawaz’s reinstatement as party head and have been up in arms over the minor attempted amendment in the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat clause. The government’s hasty correction of the ‘clerical error’ and repeated explanations that the change was made inadvertently seem to have fallen on deaf ears, however, as the religious diaspora’s increasing uproar took the country by storm.
A group of some 2000 protesters belonging to the TYLR have disrupted daily life in Islamabad for the past one week, as the livid mob calls for the resignation of the federal law minister over, virtually holding the Capital city hostage to their demands. The rally participants also protested against the lack of punishment for those involved in making changes to the oath for electoral candidates.
The MML also jumped into the fray as their President and Hafiz Saeed’s son-in-law Saifullah Khalid spoke at length about the supposed conspiracy behind the change in the wordings of the oath. He went on to demand that Law Minister Zahid Hamid hand over his resignation and the guilty parties be punished.
The statements also mark the first time the MML, which has tried to maintain a clean record, said things overtly against a religious group when Saifullah Khalid declared that “Ahmadis are the enemies of Islam and of Pakistan, and not just religious parties, but the entire nation needs to come together to prevent attempts to declare them Muslims.”
MML representatives also said to Pakistan Today that they would continue to protect the ideological boundaries of the nation. To the question of declaring Ahmadis enemies of the state and Islam, they said the MML would not shirk away from speaking the truth.
Earlier, the deputy attorney general had warned about such a confrontational situation arising because of the IHC’s decision saying that with elections just around the corner, more changes to the act would lead to further chaos.
Subsequently, Justice Siddiqui argued that the sensitivity of the matter warranted his order to reverse the changes to the oath and summoned the report prepared by PML-N committee probing the issue.
The judge also asked the federal government to submit a reply with regards to the request for the database within two weeks.