Delimitation Bill

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The Senate approved most important the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill was introduced in the House by Minister-In-Charge of Law and Justice and moved for passage. According to report, there were 84 votes in favour of the bill and one vote against it by Senator Kamil Ali Agha. Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani read the clauses of the bill, during which the house was open to questions from lawmakers. Senator Hafiz Hamdullah asked about the hurdles in the delay in the bill, saying that the reservations were cleared in the lower house of parliament earlier. The National Assembly passed this bill on November 16, 2017 with a two-third majority to consider the provisional results of census 2017 to make delimitation of constituencies for upcoming general elections 2018. A total of 233 members voted in favour of it and one member opposed it.

On Dec 11, voting on the bill was postponed for the fifth time in the Senate. On Nov 27, the bill wasn’t passed as the required number of lawmakers was not present in the house. The house of 104 needed a two-thirds majority to pass the bill whereas less than 50 lawmakers were present. The government had developed consensus with main political parties in the House to attain the required strength of 69 members. The passage of the bill will not change the 272 seats strength of the National Assembly. The bill will decrease nine National Assembly seats (seven general and two women seats) of the most populous Punjab province, and will increase five seats (four general and women seats ) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three seats of the largest province of Balochistan (two general, one women seats) and one of federal capital. The number of NA seats for Sindh province and FATA will remain the same. The bill seeks to carry out fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of officially published census results. It asks to allow delimitation for the general elections 2018 on the basis of the provisional results of the 6th Population and Housing Census 2017. However, this bill will allow having delimitation on the basis of provisional results of the census. Finally sanity prevailed as government and opposition parties decided to pass crucial delimitation bill after hiatus of one month. Delay in passage of delimitation bill has caused widespread political uncertainty in the country. It will end unnecessary political chaos and now will pave way for the smooth continuity of democracy. The government and opposition parties should be commended for ending deadlock on this bill. Now government should complete further process on fast track basis to ensure upcoming elections on time.

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