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AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION (PROPOSED)

AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION (PROPOSED), FIFTEENTH On 28 August 1998, the government of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif brought the draft of the proposed Fifteenth Amendment to the constitution before the National Assembly Under the proposal, it was to be declared that “the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet shall be the supreme law of Pakistan,” that “the Federal Government shall be under an obligation to take steps to enforce the Shariah, to establish salat (prayer), to administer zakat, to promote amr bil ma’roof (what is right) and nahi anil mumkar (to forbid what is wrong), that corruption would be eradicated at all levels, that substantial socio-economic justice would be provided in accordance with the principles of Islam, as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah,” and that “the Federal Government may issue directives for the provisions set out in the clauses,” and “take the necessary action against any state functionary for non-compliance of the said directive” The proposed amendment’s initial draft also contained a provision that would have allowed the constitution to be amended by a majority vote rather than by two-thirds of the membership of the two houses of the parliament The amendment was widely viewed in the country as an attempt by the prime minister to establish a religious dictatorship in the country Even the more liberal elements in Sharif’s own party were reluctant to support the amendment Their acceptance was obtained after the prime minister agreed to drop the provision with respect to the procedure for amending the constitution The bill was finally tabled before the National Assembly on 9 October 1998, and was passed by a vote of 151 in favor (142 by the governing Pakistan Muslim League (PML), 7 by Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) members, and 2 from Balochistan), and 16 voting against it However, since the prime minister did not have the number of votes needed for approval in the Senate, he decided not to put the bill in that chamber until March 2000 By that time, the elections to the Senate were expected to significantly increase the PML’s presence in the Senate Mian Nawaz Sharif’s removal by the military, on 12 October 1999, effectively killed the new amendment



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