ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday unanimously approved the Electoral Reforms Bill 2017.

The house adopted amendments moved by the law minister including those having concurrence of the opposition members while other amendments of the opposition benches were rejected.

The bill consolidates eight election laws that would stand repealed once it becomes an act of parliament. The bill presented by federal minister for law Zahid Hamid.

The NA received around 150 amendments proposed by political parties for the bill. An amendment proposed by PTI, to allow overseas Pakistanis to vote in the general elections was rejected, which drew sharp criticism from the opposition party.

The reforms proposed in the bill include financial and administrative autonomy for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Maximum limit of election expenses has been rationalized. New limits for expenses are 1.5 million rupees for election to a seat of Senate; four million for a seat of National Assembly and two million rupees for a seat of provincial assembly.  

Under the bill, functions of the Caretaker Government have been confined to day to day, routine, non-controversial matters and shall not take major policy decisions except of urgent nature. Political parties are required to allot at least five percent tickets against general seats to female candidates.

PTI leader Shafqat Mehmood while addressing the media outside the assembly said that despite our efforts, no action was taken to register overseas Pakistanis. Mehmood further stated that biometric verification is absolutely necessary but ‘it was deliberately slowed down and no real efforts were made to take the process ahead.

Earlier, at the start of the session, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah lashed out at the low presence of lawmakers in the lower house of Parliament.  

Shah, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party, said he was ashamed to see such a low level of attendance in the assembly, when the lawmakers were expected to discuss the Electoral Reforms Bill 2017.