Pakistan's Election Commission amends rules for presidential polls

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Islamabad, Sep 16 (UNI) Clearing a barrier in the way of President Pervez Musharraf's re-election, Pakistan's Election Commission has amended the rules for the presidential polls, making the various conditions for being a parliamentarian no longer applicable to the President.

Meanwhile, the schedule for the eagerly-awaited election is likely to be announced on Tuesday, media reports said.

Thus the Returning Officer for the election has been stripped of the power to conduct a summary inquiry or reject any nomination paper if the candidate is subject to disqualification from being elected as, or from being, a member of parliament as provided in Article 63 of the Constitution, the Daily Times today reported.

The Election Commission has amended clause (a), sub-rule (3) of rule 5 of the Presidential Election Rules 1988, making Article 63 of the Constitution -- laying down various conditions under which a person can be disqualified from being a member of parliament -- no longer applicable to the President.

Earlier, this clause allowed the RO to conduct such an inquiry or reject nomination papers of a candidate if that candidate was not qualified under Article 63 to be elected as President, or was subject to disqualification from being elected as a member of the National Assembly. Now the words ''or is subject to any disqualification from being elected as, and from being, a member of the National Assembly'' have been omitted.

The paper quoted Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sher Afgan Niazi as saying that ''under the Supreme Court's decisions in the Qazi Hussain Ahmad case of 2002 and the Pakistan Lawyers Forum case of 2005, Article 63 is not applicable to the president in toto''.

The qualification for a person to become president was determined in Article 41 of the Constitution, and now Article 63 -- with its clause (k), which prevents a government servant from participating in elections unless they have been retired for at least two years, and clause (o), which prevents anyone who holds an office of profit from participating in elections -- also do not apply to the president, Dr Niazi said.

UNI

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