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What is 20th (Twentieth) Amendment to the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Means

Updated on February 14, 2012

20th (Twentieth) Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan

At last the 20th amendment has been unanimously adopted by the parliament of Pakistan.

Pakistan National Assembly is about to make 20th amendment in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The need for introducing the twentieth amendment was felt when Imran Khan, Chairman of Tehrik-e-Insaf, challenged the legality of Election Commission of Pakistan.

According to the eighteenth amendment the Election Commission of Pakistan should consists of a Chief Election Commission and four members. However, the PPP Government had failed to appoint the members of the Election Commission, which continued to run exclusively by the Chief Election Commission and hence the ECP remained incomplete under which 28-members of the parliament were elected.

Now through the case which lead to (twentieth) 20th amendment filed by Imran Khan, Chairman of Tehrik-e-Insaf the legality of the ECP has been questioned and there is a probability that the Supreme Court of Pakistan could declare the by-elections conducted under this incomplete Election Commission as illegal and as a consequence of this order the fate of the elected parliamentarians would be at stake and could possibility be declared disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Hence, in order to make good of this deficiency the Government is planning to introduce the 20th amendment bill in the parliament. According to the news reports, draft of the 20th amendment has been approved by the Committee of the National Assembly. Out of the 17 members of the said committee only 7 attended. Nawaz league parliamentarians preferred not to attend the said committee.

The draft of the 20th amendment is as under:-

The bill suggests an amendment to Article 219 of the Constitution that relates to “duties of the commission” through insertion of a new proviso: “Provided always that till such time the members of the commission are appointed in accordance with Article 218(2), the commissioner shall remain charged with the duties enumerated in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of this article.”

This is the time when the Government is again seeking help from the friendly opposition i.e. PML(N) as without their help, this bill could not be able to get this bill approved from the parliament as for any amendment in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, two third majority is required, which the present government does not have despite the fact that they got the support of their allies of MQM, ANP and Maulana Fazal ur Rahman.

This is also a time when the interests of government and opposition are the same because those 28 parliamentarians, fate of whom is on stake, are relate to both government and opposition alike. Hence, there is every likelihood that this amendment will be approved by the Parliament with the help of the opposition. However, opposition is trying to get the advantage from this situation and en-cash their conditional support to on this amendment. Everybody know that the present Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Justice (R) Hamid Ali Mirza is not acceptable for the opposition as being not impartial. So they want to get appointed a new chief of the ECP to replace what it considers a ‘handpicked’ choice of President Asif Ali Zardari.

The other demand of the opposition is to get the tenure of the office of the members of the ECP extended from 2 years to five years. On the other hand, the government is trying to extent the period of tenure of the Chief Election Commission, which is not acceptable for the opposition. However, there is still a lot of to be done to break the deadlock between the Government and Opposition.

Any support from the opposition would be at the cost of their popularity in the general public as this will give opportunity to Mr. Imran Khan to cash it as his version that Nawaz Sharif and Zardari are the same and they support each other when their interest are the same. Hence, it would be a tough decision for the opposition to lend a hand to the Zardari government to pass another crucial adversity.


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