Article 62 and 63: You don't have to be too holy to be an MPA

Controversial figures, who have no link with religion, will get a clean chit if have memorised the second Kalimah!

Ovais Ahmed April 07, 2013
They say that the world is all about numbers, and for Pakistan today, the numbers 62 and 63 are the talk of town.

Citizens of the country are watching election candidates being questioned over their eligibility on the basis of the much talked about Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

Candidates are being scrutinised regarding their utility bill payments, bank loan payments, their ideological views on Pakistan and most interestingly, their Islamic knowledge.

Regarding Islam, returning officers performing the scrutiny of nomination papers have a set of interesting questions which they pose to the candidates. Some are being asked to recite different (and commonly known) verses of the Holy Quran while others are being tested on the rakaats of prayers. And it is this Islamic quiz that is in the firing range of many people.

The three important criteria related to Islam, as laid down in article 62, are that a member of parliament must:

1. Be of good character and is not commonly known to violate Islamic injunctions;

2. Be sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen (trustworthy);

3. Have adequate knowledge of teachings, practices, and obligatory duties prescribed by Islam. He should also abstain from major sins.

Many politicians and members of the civil society are of the view that the above clauses are extremely vague and they should not be present in the constitution. Sadly, their voice was absent during the past five years and now, whether they like it or not, these points are a part of the constitution and cannot be escaped.

For the first point, there are many people who argue that “good character” cannot be defined and thus, cannot be judged. However, when the same people are asked about how they raise their children with “good character”, they suddenly come up with a long list of qualities pertaining to 'good character'. Surprisingly, they also have a set of rules and regulations that they use to evaluate the “good character” of their children.

The second point related to being righteous and honest is also being criticised on the basis of being too strict. Many people believe that if this criteria is properly applied, no candidate will be deemed fit to participate in the elections. These people should ask themselves whether disqualification of many politicians from the old lot, who are considered to be corrupt by masses, is a problem or a solution in itself. It would actually create an opportunity for the young blood of the country to be pumped into the Parliament.

But fortunately or unfortunately, the Election Commission of Pakistan has not come up with any formula or questions to judge candidates regarding the above two points.

This leaves us with the third point related to Islamic knowledge, performing rituals and abstaining from sins. First of all, it must be clear that this is for Muslim candidates only.

Next, the way in which returning officers of the Election Commission are evaluating these criteria is a joke in itself. Instead of the candidates being asked whether they actually perform obligatory duties and refrain from major sins, they are being questioned on things which a fifth grader would know.

The Election Commission is playing it very easy here, and as a result, highly controversial figures, who have no link with religion, will get a clean chit just on the basis that they have memorised the second Kalimah.

Thus, the good news for candidates and the opponents of these clauses is that there is no need to worry about anything. We will not actually witness anyone being disqualified in the name of Islam.

Read more by Ovais here. 
Ovais Ahmed A producer for Express News.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Nowsherwan Riaz | 10 years ago | Reply @Anoop: im not changing my statments according to my need.... u asked how muslim leaque asserted that it si the sole representative of teh majority voted for them.... but these statements were ment for comment by fozia... so sorry i gave u out of the context replies but i didnt relized it untill right now..... About your assertions that jinnah did same to people what election commision did to ayaz emir.... jinnah didnt do anything like that sort.... infact muslim leaque consisted of every sort of muslims from all sects and view points.... but ofcourse not those who didnt belived in paksitan ideology or seperation of India Now what Jinnah views were about nominating Azad in assembly is a completly different matter as compared to ayaz Amir.... Azads nomination in assembly got nothing to do with his view points about Pakistan ideology..... he was a part of congress and i belive jinnah correctly claimed that only muslim leaque represented interests of muslims because congress was not focusing on the interests of muslims...... this can be verified from the congress behaviour towards mulims after 1939 elections (i might be wrong with year) and this behaviour ultimately led to muslim Leaque election victory in 1945 now Mr ayaz Amir allgedly critized ideology of Pakistan..... tell me sir how is it that u live in a country but dont believe in its ideology..... how can people expect that u will protect the country if u dont agree with the ideology of the country of which u are going to make the laws...... As of now i think the case has been resolved by the courts.... i havent been in otuch with news......
Anoop | 10 years ago | Reply @Nowsherwan Riaz: You are changing your statement according to your needs. There seems to be no real conviction, nor factual awareness. The way I demolished your non-factual assertion that ML won all Muslim seats, I can demolish your assertion that winning the majority seats authorities you to speak on behalf of all the followers of a certain Religion. But, that is not my fight. My only point was Jinnah did the same thing what the EC people in Pakistan did to Ayaz Amir. If ML was representative of ALL Muslims or not or not is not important for me. For me what is important is the principle behind the action - Communal-ism. That is well and truly established. Let me remind you of another time a set of people gave power to a despot. He certainly claimed he represented ALL of the people and did pretty nasty things(Much worse than Direct Action day). He was called the Fuhrer by those same people. Have a fun-filled, interesting day.. :)
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