Federal government unveils plan to prevent proscribed organisations from elections

Federal government unveils plan to prevent proscribed organisations from elections
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ISLAMABAD: The federal government has drafted a new piece of legislation to prevent activists of proscribed organisations from contesting all kinds of polls in the country.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has introduced two new amendments to the 'Anti-Terrorism Terrorism Act, 1997' in an effort to stop around 8, 400 members of banned outfits whose names were put in the 4th schedule and other hate-mongers from contesting elections of Parliament as well as the local bodies.

“Person (s) proscribed under this section shall be barred from contesting national, provincial and local bodies elections as well as to hold any public office,” reads the newly inserted subsection 20-(2) (a), which is proposed as an addition with the section 20(2) of ATA, 1997.

The similar addition has also been made after Section-11-EE of the said Act for barring proscribed persons from contesting polls as well as to hold public office. “Any person who is an activist, office-bearer or an associate of an organisation kept under observation … or proscribed … or … affiliated with any group—suspected to be involved in terrorism or sectarianism,” old section 11-EE of the ATA, 1997, defined the Fourth Schedule earlier.

The proposed amendments came from the National Counterterrorism Authority which expressed deep concerns over the active role of proscribed organisations in electoral politics in certain parts of the country, officials said.

The move is coming at a time when scores of organisations, which were on either proscribed or put on the watch list by the ministries of interior or foreign affairs, were planning to participate in the upcoming general elections of 2018. 

These organisations, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat in particular, were also planning to get themselves registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

“We’ve also proposed amendments to various sections of ‘The People Representation Act, 1976' to make it a perfect law,” officials familiar with the development told this correspondent on Sunday. 

The final draft of ‘Anti-Terrorism Act, 2017’, which now has complete endorsement of the interior minister, shall be sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice soon for its final drafting, revealed the officials.

The existing law did not prevent outlawed groups/organisations and those whose names were put on 4th schedule from contesting elections and holding meetings with government functionaries and civil servants, officials said. 

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