Pakistan People’s Party has agreed to get a bill for new delimitation of constituencies passed by the Senate, sources said Sunday, following backdoor contacts with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2017, pertains to the fresh delimitation of constituencies in line with the provisional results of the latest census in light of the general elections next year.
The bill had been adopted by the National Assembly, however, the government had so far failed to get it approved by the Senate despite repeated attempts. On November 17, voting on the bill was postponed for the required number of lawmakers were not present in the Senate. The house of 104 needed a two-thirds majority to pass the bill whereas less than 50 lawmakers were present in the house.
However, backdoor contacts between the PPP and the ruling PML-N have resulted in a conditional nod by the former. Sources said the government has agreed to PPP’s demand that it would hold only one election based on new delimitation.
The Senate is likely to adopt the bill in its session due to start from today, they added. According to the new delimitation of constituencies, Punjab’s seat share in the National Assembly will decrease by nine seats, while Islamabad will get one more seat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa five and Balochistan three more.
NA seats for FATA and Sindh will remain unchanged. The opposition party agreed to support the bill only after getting the government’s assurance of accepting all its demands including that of holding the 2018 general elections on time.
After Senator Babar Awan stepped down and left the PPP to join the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the ruling PML-N has become the majority party in the Senate with 27 seats, followed by the PPP’s 26.
Sources had earlier said that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was personally involved in efforts to ensure that the bill passes and has asked the PML-N senators to make sure that “no one goes out of country or skips the Senate session for any reason”.
Despite supporting the constituencies’ delimitation bill in the NA and having it passed, the PPP was opposing it in the Senate. The PPP reportedly wanted to strike an ‘underhand deal’ with the PML-N government to secure some seats in the March 2018 Senate elections.
The PPP also wanted to deal for some seats from south Punjab in the general elections scheduled next year. Reports also suggest that PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari wanted concrete assurances from the government that his sister Faryal Talpur would be elevated as the next Senate chairperson.