Kashmir: AJK govt withdraws 15th amendment bill

Jammu & Kashmir POK - Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government withdrew the 15th constitutional amendment bill from the Legislative Assembly on Thursday when the house was to consider the report of the relevant standing committee of the house.

During the session which lasted for less than 10 minutes before being prorogued by the chair sine die, the house suspended the relevant rule on the suggestion of PM’s adviser on information Chaudhry Rafique Nayyar to pave way for withdrawal of the bill.

The bill which envisaged establishment of a separate commission for local bodies (LB) elections was tabled by the government on August 13 with the backing of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers.

It was seen as an attempt to technically frustrate the AJK Election Commission’s announcement to hold LB polls on September 28 in obedience to an AJK Supreme Court direction to the government to hold the long overdue LB polls by October 15.

Spelling out the aims and objectives of creating a separate electoral body of LB polls, the government had maintained that the Election Commission had announced the schedule without addressing the issues of corrections in voter lists as well as litigation and complaints regarding delimitation of wards and divisions of revenue villages and town committees. In such a situation, holding of free, fair, impartial and peaceful elections by it was next to impossible.Therefore, establishment of a constitutional body for LB elections was imperative, the government had added.

However, over the past five days, the government remained of two minds on whether it should give the green light to the amendment bill or adopt some other course to achieve its goal.

On Wednesday, the government moved an application in the Supreme Court through senior counsel Raja Sajjad Ahmed, seeking extension until March 2023 in the court’s deadline to hold LB elections.

Believing that the application would be taken up and favourably disposed of by the apex court by Thursday noon, the speaker had summoned the house at 3pm.

However, on Thursday, the court did not entertain the application and said it would do so on Friday.

In the meanwhile, in anticipation of grant of its request amid “good vibes” from the apex court, the government decided and subsequently withdrew the bill from the house.__Tribune.com