The federal legislature in Pakistan is Parliament (also known as Majlis-e-Shoora which literally means an advisory council or consultative council). Parliament in Pakistan, according to article 50, is comprised of President and the two houses known as National Assembly and Senate. Representation to various federating units in the National assembly or the lower house is given on the basis of population; the more populous a federating unit is the more it has seats in the National Assembly. The Senate, in accordance with the principles of federation, represents the federating units on the basis of equality. Small and large federating units have equal number of seats.  In other words, Baluchistan the least populous province has equal number of senators to that of Punjab, the most populous province.  

National Assembly 

According to article 51 there shall be three hundred and thirty six for members in the National Assembly, including seats reserved for women and non-Muslims.

Who can vote?

A person shall be entitled to vote if­—

(a) he is a citizen of Pakistan;

(b) he is not less than eighteen years of age;

(c) his name appears on the electoral roll; and

(d) he is not declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind.

Who can be voted as Member of Parliament

A person to be elected to the parliament must be:

(a) A citizen of Pakistan

(b) In the case of National Assembly, not less than 25 years of age and enrolled in the electoral list in any part of Pakistan if he or she is contesting election on a general seat or a seat reserved for non-Muslims. If she is contesting election on a seat reserved for women then she must be enrolled in the electoral list in the province concerned.

(c) In the case of Senate, not less than 35 years of age and enrolled in the electoral list in the province or Federal Capital as the case may be, from where he or she is contesting election.

Furthermore, he or she must fulfill the requisites of article 62 in order to be a member of Parliament.

Allocation of seats in National Assembly to Federating units

According to article 51, clause (3) the three hundred and thirty six seats in the National Assembly , except the seats mentioned in clause (4) of article 51 i.e. the seats reserved for non-Muslims, shall be allocated to each Province and the Federal Capital as under :—

Allocation of Seats to Federating Units in National Assembly of Pakistan

Notwithstanding the allocation of seats  by clause 3 as in the above table or any other law for the time being in force, the members of the National Assembly from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to be elected in the general elections, 2018 shall continue till dissolution of the National Assembly and thereafter this clause shall stand omitted.

Bifurcation of seats in National Assembly in Different Categories: General seats, Women Seats and Total Seats

Constituencies for General seats

The constituencies for the general seats shall be single member territorial constituencies and the members to fill such seats shall be elected by direct and free vote in accordance with law.

Constituencies for seats reserved for women

Each Province shall be a single constituency for all seats reserved for women which are allocated to the respective Provinces under clause (3) of article 51.

Article 51 clause (6) sub-clause (d) provides that members to the seats reserved for women which are allocated to a Province under shall be elected in accordance with law through proportional representation system of political parties’ lists of candidates on the basis of total number of general seats secured by each political party from the Province concerned in the National Assembly. However, for the purpose of this paragraph the total number of general seats won by a political party shall include the independent returned candidate or candidates who may duly join such political party within three days of the publication in the official Gazette of the names of the returned candidates.

Seats Reserved for non-Muslims

In addition to the number of seats referred to in clause (3), there shall be, in the National Assembly, ten seats reserved for non-Muslims. The constituency for all seats reserved for non-Muslims shall be the whole country.

According to article 51 clause (6) sub-clause (e) members to the seats reserved for non-Muslims shall be elected in accordance with law through proportional representation system of political parties’ lists of candidates on the basis of total number of general seats won by each political party in the National Assembly and the total number of general seats won by a political party shall include the independent returned candidate or candidates who may duly join such political party within three days of the publication in the official Gazette of the names of the returned candidates.

Allocation of seats in the National Assembly on the basis of population

According to clause 5 of article 51, the seats in the National Assembly shall be allocated to each province and the Federal Capital on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding census officially published.

Provided that for purposes of the next general elections to be held in 2018 and bye-elections related thereto, the allocation shall be made on the basis of provisional results of the 2017 census which shall be published by the Federal Government.

Allocation of Seats in the National Assembly to Federating Units

Duration of National Assembly

According to article 52 the National Assembly shall, unless sooner dissolved, continue for a term of five years from the day of its first meeting and shall stand dissolved at the expiration of its term.

The Senate of Pakistan

Composition of Senate

According to the provisions of article 59 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 the Senate shall consist of ninety-six members, of whom,

  •  fourteen shall be elected by the members of each Provincial Assembly 
  •  two on general seats, and one woman and one technocrat including aalim shall be elected from the Federal Capital in such manner as the President may, by Order, prescribe;
  • four women shall be elected by the members of each Provincial Assembly;
  • four technocrats including ulema shall be elected by the members of each Provincial Assembly; and
  • four non-Muslims, one from each Province, shall be elected by the members of each Provincial Assembly. Provided that this paragraph shall be effective from the next Senate election after the commencement of the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Act, 2010.
Representation of Provinces and Federal Capital in the Senate of Pakistan
Members of the Senate to be Elected by Each of the Four Provinces and Federal Capital

Proportional Representation System

Election to fill seats in the Senate allocated to each Province shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

Specimen of the Single Transferable Vote for Proportional Representation System

The Term of the Senators

According to article 59, clause (3) the Senate shall not be subject to dissolution but the term of its members, who shall retire as follows, shall be six years :

­> of the 14 members elected by a provincial assembly seven shall retire after the expiration of the first three years and seven shall retire after the expiration of the next three years;

> of the four members elected from Federal Capital,­—

(i) one elected on general seat shall retire after the expiration of the first three years and the other one shall retire after the expiration of the next three years; and

(ii) one elected on the seat reserved for technocrat shall retire after first three years and the one elected on the seat reserved for women shall retire after the expiration of the next three years;

> of the four women members elected by a provincial assembly, two shall retire after the expiration of the first three years and two shall retire after the expiration of the next three years;

> of the four members elected by provincial assembly on technocrat seat, two shall retire after the expiration of the. first three years and two shall retire after the expiration of the next three years; and

> of the members elected on non-Muslims seat, two shall retire after the expiration of first three years and two shall retire after the expiration of next three years:

Provided that the Election Commission for the first term of seats for non-Muslims shall draw a lot as to which two members shall retire after the first three years.

Retirement Plan of the Senators

Although paragraph (b) of clause (1) and paragraph (b) of clause (3) of article 59 are omitted through 25th Constitutional amendment the existing members of the Senate from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas were allowed by clause 3-A of article 59 to continue till expiry of their respective terms of office. On the expiry of their terms of office clause 3-A shall also omit.

Clause (4) of article 59 provides that the term of office of a person elected to fill a casual vacancy shall be the unexpired term of the member whose vacancy he has filled. For example the natural term of office of a senator is six years, however, if his seat is vacant after two years due to resignation, disqualification or death and another person is elected to fill that vacant seat. His term of office shall be 4 years i.e. the unexpired term of his predecessor.

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