To the Point – The 20th Amendment

A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense.’

                    -Barack Obama, President of the United States of America

Amending the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has become an everyday process in the eyes of a common man, but one thing that should be realised is that it is not divine law and needs changing with the need of the time.

The 20th Amendment, which was unanimously passed by the Parliament recently, became the third such legislation since the current government took over back in 2008.

Unlike of the legislation in the past, the 20th Amendment has been introduced for very few and specific reasons and in accordance with the saying of Barack Obama, is pretty clear, easy to understand and straightforward.

Basically, the 20th Amendment brings into law the need of appointing a caretaker setup in case the leader of the house, the Prime Minister, and the leader of the opposition fail to reach consensus on the issue before elections are to take place
under the neutral setup.

What the issue has been in the past is that governments setup a pro-party caretaker setup, which obviously brings about the problem of not being neutral and biased towards a specific political party, harming the democratic and free and fair elections process.

In each case, it would the Speaker of the National Assembly that would appoint an eight-member committee, consisting of four members from the government and the opposition along with being forced to reach a conclusion within three days.

Another intention of the government was to ensure that no finger could be pointed towards the election process and result after they were done and over with like many small political parties that did not take part, labelling the previous ones rigged.

“We want to ensure a fully autonomous election commission for holding free, fair and transparent elections in the country so that no political party, like in the past, raises concerns of rigging,” said Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani.

The 20th Amendment also had a deeper meaning as it was meant to strengthen the democratic forces even further along with granting the Parliament more powers along with curtailing the influence of the President on the caretaker setup and elections,
a first in the history of Pakistan.

“This will help strengthen the democratic process and it will also bring transparency to the electoral process,” Federal Minister for Information Dr.Firdous Ashiq Awan added.

As Pakistan is heading towards witnessing the first completion of a democratically elected government, the 20th Amendment will hopefully be a way to keep anti-Pakistan forces out of the scene and stop them from interfering in matters which are
reserved for civilian supremacy only.