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Pakistan's PML-N party-led government on Friday managed to pass a key clause in the Elections Reforms Bill in the Senate, paving the way for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif to become the chief of the ruling party again.
The Election Commission of Pakistan had disqualified Sharif as a member of the National Assembly following the Supreme Court's July 28 verdict on the Panama Papers scandal. The 67-year-old leader was also rendered ineligible to act as the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party under the landmark verdict.
At today's session of the Senate, a vote was held on the proposed amendment with 38 lawmakers approving the bill as it is while 37 rejecting it. The government managed to get the bill passed by one vote, the Express Tribune reported.
With the passage of clause 203 of the Elections Reforms Bill, 2017 by the Senate, Sharif could become the chief of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz again, it said.
The National Assembly had approved the bill earlier.
Opposition Pakistan Peoples Party's Aitzaz Ahsan had suggested an amendment in clause 203 stating that someone who was no longer a member of the National Assembly could not become the chief of a party either.
The amendment would have prevented Sharif from becoming president of the PML-N once again.
The bill gives every citizen the right to be part of a political party or create one, except those in government service.
The bill will now return to the National Assembly for approval. If the lower house of parliament passes the bill with amendments, it will become a law after formal assent by President Mamnoon Hussain, Dawn newspaper reported.
If the assembly refuses to accept the bill, it will go to a joint sitting of Parliament, it said.
After the passage of the bill, PML-N leader Mushahidullah said with the approval of clause 203, Sharif could become the party chief again.
"In fact, it can be considered that he has already become the party chief," he added.