President Arif Alvi returns NAB, election amendment bills for ‘not being informed’ about legislative proposal
- President Arif Alvi contests that Article 46 was violated.
- President returns bills for “reconsideration and detailed deliberation”.
- Bills passed “in haste and without due diligence”, he says.
ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday refused to sign the bills seeking amendments in the NAB and election laws, and returned them back to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif as he “was not informed” about the “legislative proposal” under Article 46 before they were tabled in Parliament.
The National Assembly had last week passed bills to abolish the PTI government’s election reforms giving overseas Pakistanis the right to vote through i-Voting and electronic voting machines (EVMs), as well as the NAB laws.
After the president’s refusal to sign the bills, the federal government has decided to convene a joint sitting of the Parliament to pass them, sources told Geo News.
Meanwhile, a press release issued by the president’s office said that Dr Alvi returned the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 for “reconsideration and detailed deliberation” to Parliament and its committees under Clause (1) (b) of Article 75.
The president has contested that Article 46 was violated as he was not informed about the legislative proposals before they were brought before the Parliament. Article 46 states that “the prime minister shall keep the president informed……. on all legislative proposals the federal government intends to bring before Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)”.
Dr Alvi also noted that the bills were passed “in haste and without due diligence”. He noted that both the bills have “far-reaching impact on society” and should have been discussed in detail.
NAB amendment changes burden of proof: president
On NAB laws, President Alvi noted that the amendment shifts the burden of proof on the persecution and would make the accountability watch dog’s laws similar to the code of criminal procedure.
“This will make it impossible for the prosecution to prove cases of corruption and misuse of official authority by the state persons and will bury the process of accountability in Pakistan,” claimed Dr Alvi. He also noted that the amendment is “against the spirit of Islamic jurisprudence”.
“This amendment would make the tracing money trail for the acquisition of illegal assets almost impossible especially when the records of the property/assets/wealth are neither digitised nor can be traced especially in benami properties by the investigators,” said the president.
Dr Alvi is of the view that if the amendments are enacted then the “ongoing mega corruption cases” in courts will become “infructuous”.
“Therefore, the proposed amendment which should have strengthened the accountability mechanism to eliminate corruption and political engineering to ensure good governance in the country has been rendered a toothless entity,” concluded the president.
Overseas Pakistanis deprived of voting rights since 1990s: President Alvi
On the election amendment bill, Dr Alvi noted that overseas Pakistanis have been deprived of voting rights despite commitments made to them by different prime ministers and presidents during their overseas trips since the 1990s.
“As a result of constant pursuance by them, the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2018 upheld its earlier decision of 2014 on the voting rights of overseas Pakistanis and reiterated that with improving technology, efforts should be made to allow them to vote from outside of Pakistan,” said the president.
The president also shared that the Supreme Court had expressed its regret about the system not being used despite its judgment in 2014.
“Objections on the possibility of hacking the I-voting have no ground as the amount of digital financial transactions taking place are to the tune of approximately $5 trillion daily which has been increasing to almost $8.5 trillion every day. The probability of a plane crash is thousands of times higher than the probability of hacking of a digital transaction today,” said the president.
The president stated that the process used to ensure secure digital payments can “ensure anonymity and security of the vote and can also be subjected to complete audit on the truth-match of the vote cast”.
“The EVM to be adopted by Pakistan is unique and combines a paper system of votes as we already practice, together with an electronic counting to keep a permanent supportive safety record. The legislature can always make laws that in case of discrepancy or dispute, the paper count rather than the electronic count will take priority or vice versa. There is no risk involved,” he said.
“In Pakistan, the stigma of rigging is attached to every election resulting in that every government has to bear an allegation of non-representation, reducing its credibility in some segment of the population within the country thus weakening it, and also with implications internationally. Billions are lost in litigation and confrontation”, the President added.
He observed that the new amendments in this form are like taking one step forward, and then panicking and taking two steps backwards. Changing them back is tantamount to unnecessarily delaying these technical processes for the advancement and transparency of elections in Pakistan.
He recommended that Parliament should not regress on these laws, in fact only improve them with set timelines to ensure implementation.
Sham Idrees announces break in his marriage with Froggy
YouTube’s famous couple Sham Idrees and Froggy aka Sehar are taking sometime away from each other in their relationship.
Sham, taking it to his Instagram, left his fans in a shock after announcing his separation with Froggy. He wrote: “I would like to announce that me and froggy are taking sometime away from each other in our relationship. Please don’t involve me in issues concerning froggy, rabil or any of the other family members. I appreciate some privacy during this difficult time.”
Sham is a Canadian based YouTuber, who has a following of 1.4 million people on Instagram, is widely-known for his entertaining content. His videos often feature his wife Sehar along with him.
The couple tied the knot a few years ago and is parents to baby Sierra who is two-years old. The duo welcomed another daughter on September 28, 2022. They named her Shanaya Idrees.
After the birth of his first daughter, Sham Idrees also introduced his fans to his daughter Dua from his previous marriage.
Massive power breakdown hits Pakistan
- Minister says power generation units are temporarily shut in winter at night.
- Says frequency variation in national grid triggered outage.
- Says ministry trying to restore power in next 12 hours.
LAHORE/KARACHI/QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: A countrywide power breakdown, triggered by a “frequency variation” in the national grid early Monday morning, has left large parts of the country including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta without electricity.
Power Minister Khurrum Dastagir, while talking to Geo News, said that the power generation units are temporarily shut down in winter at night as an economic measure to save fuel costs.
“When the systems were turned on at 7:30am this morning one by one, frequency variation was reported in the southern part of the country between Jamshoro and Dadu. There was a fluctuation in voltage and power generating units were shut down one by one due to cascading impact. This is not a major crisis,” said the federal minister as the country plunged into darkness for the second time in four months.
The minister said that his ministry has started restoring some grid stations in Tarbela and Warsak.
“Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and some grids of Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) have already been restored,” claimed the minister.
Talking about the breakdown in Karachi, the minister said that the matter in the port city is complicated as it has a complete electric supply system.
“We provide K-Electric about 1,000-1,100 megawatts routinely, however, it will be restored within a few hours. It is not certain how long will it take to sort this issue. However, my target is to restore electricity in the country in the next 12 hours,” said the minister.
Before the energy ministry’s announcement, different power distribution companies had confirmed the breakdown.
According to Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO), the two transmission lines have tripped leaving 22 districts of Balochistan, including Quetta without power.
Karachi power update
Meanwhile, K-Electric spokesperson Imran Rana said that at approximately 7:34am today, the national grid experienced a loss of frequency, affecting the power supply to multiple cities across Pakistan
“This has also cascaded to KE’s network affecting power supply to Karachi,” Rana said, adding the KE’s network is safe and protected.
“Our teams are actively monitoring the situation and enabling restoration efforts.”
An IESCO spokesperson said that its 117 grid stations were without electricity.
Meanwhile, PESCO also confirmed the outage in areas where it supplies electricity.
This is the second time within four months that a country was hit by a major power breakdown.
NEPRA takes notice
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), in a statement, said that it has taken “serious notice” of the power outage and directed the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) to submit a “detailed report”.
The statement also said that the regulator has previously imposed fines on similar outages in the 2021 and 2022. It also shared that NEPRA has consistently issued directives and recommendations on tackling such events in future.
In October of last year, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta, Multan, and Faisalabad were hit by a power outage.
At that time, the power minister said that nearly 8,000 megawatts of power went offline.
Back then, Dastagir had said that the simultaneous faults in two power lines, which had triggered the breakdown, at the same time was concerning for the government. He had also announced that an in-depth inquiry was ordered and promised action.
A timeline of power breakdowns in Pakistan
The country’s generation and distribution network has suffered eight major power breakdowns during the last nine years.
In 2014 and 2017, nationwide blackouts were caused by a fault in Tarbela Power Station while fog, frequency variation and the Guddu Power Plant fault were blamed for breakdowns in 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
Every time the party in power announced to conduct a comprehensive probe and vowed to rectify the issues but nothing has happened despite multiple inquiries.
Punjab ordered to issue divorce certificates to non-Muslims
- Lahore High Court directs provincial authority to frame rules within 90 days.
- Petitioner says issue is faced by many members of Christian community.
- NADRA’s Registration Policy allows change of marital status on basis of affidavit.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) Wednesday directed the Punjab government to frame, within 90 days, rules under which union councils would issue divorce certificates to members of Christian and other non-Muslim communities in Pakistan.
In many parts of the country, the divorce certificates are not issued to non-Muslims by union councils that instead claimed such certificates were “not issued to the Christian community.” This is an issue for members of the said community because, without a divorce certificate, they cannot request the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to update their marital status while applying for the renewal of their identity cards.
The matter was brought to the attention of the LHC during the case Shumaila Sharif vs the secretary union council etc.
The petitioner in her appeal requested that the court is a writ of Mandamus — an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly — against the relevant union council and direct it to issue her the divorce certificate.
The case proceedings
The petition was heard on December 16 last year and the presiding judge was Judge Tariq Saleem Sheikh.
During the proceedings, the counsel of the petitioner, Advocate Umar Saeed, said that the issue was faced by several people in the Christian community and was not a one-off incident.
Citing Section 33 (1)(j) of the Punjab Local Government Act 2022 (PLGA 2022) — which mandates that union councils ensure registration of births, deaths, marriages and divorces for all the communities without discrimination — and Article 36 of the Constitution, which expressly requires the state to protect the minorities’ legitimate rights and interests, the counsel argued that by refusing to issue the requisite certificate, the council was failing to fulfil its legal duty.
Additionally, Advocate Kashif Alexander, the court’s amicus curiae on the matter, contended that obtaining a divorce certificate is a legal right that cannot be denied.
Together the two emphasise that while the Constitution of Pakistan (1973) does not explicitly guarantee the right to identity, Article 9 (right to life) and Article 14 (dignity of man) safeguard that right. Therefore, any citizen whose marital status changes due to the dissolution of marriage by divorce has a fundamental right to obtain a divorce certificate from the competent authority and then have their CNIC updated/revised.
The Additional Advocate General has little to defend the respondents and said that the provincial government was taking steps to address the complaints of the Christian community regarding the non-issuance of divorce certificates.
During the proceedings, it was brought to the court’s attention that NADRA’s Registration Policy dated 06.04.2021 (Version 5.0.2) allowed a change of marital status of a divorcee on the basis of an affidavit in the prescribed form.
In light of this, the court directed that until the provincial government framed the requisite rules needed for the issuance of the divorce certificate by the union council, NADRA shall accommodate the Christian community in accordance with the Registration Policy 19.
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