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Senate composition to be a headache for N, PTI
 
 
 

LAHORE - The Pakistan Muslim League (N) of Mian Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf of Imran Khan, both claiming that they will sweep the next elections, will not be able to amend the Constitution, the former for at least first two years and the latter not for full five years, no matter how overwhelming majority the two parties get in the National Assembly in the so-far-uncertain next elections.The reason is that the Senate, or the upper chamber of the bicameral legislature, is dominated by anti-PML-N forces, and the PTI doesn’t have even a symbolic representation there.For a constitutional amendment the mover(s) must have a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament. An ordinary law, however, can be enacted by a simple majority in both the houses.At present, the PML-N has only 14 seats in the 104-member Senate. About 70 Senators’ votes are needed for a constitutional amendment in addition to a similar two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.A move defeated in either house ceases to have any impact. The PPP has 41 seats, the PML-Q 5, MQM 7, JUI-F 7 and ANP 12 in the upper house. If these parties don’t cooperate with the PML-N, it will not be in a position to have any amendment passed or a law framed even if all others support the move.The PML-F and the National Party have one seat each, the BNP (Awami) has four and FATA eight. There are four independents in the upper house.The PPP and the PML-N are expected to stay in the opposite camps, so there is no question of cooperation between the two unless there is some unforeseen development. The PML-Q is still more staunchly opposed of the PML-N, because of which they also cannot join hands.The MQM and the JUI-F are less likely to extend support to the PML-N on any issue as the former is preparing itself for a new role against both the major parties, and the JUI-F has never cooperated with the PML-N. The existing composition of the Senate, which will remain unchanged till 2015, clearly shows that for at least two years after the elections, the PML-N will not be able to do much on the legislative front.The Senate elections for the 50 per cent seats were held in March 2012 and polls for the remaining 50 per cent seats will be held in 2015.The senators are elected by the members of the provincial legislatures and any party having favourable numbers in the provincial houses will be able to get a better share in the upper chamber.The position of the PTI is weaker and not comparable with any other party.It has no representation in the Senate. And its position will remain the same till the next Senate elections, no matter how many seats it gets in the National Assembly.If it wins adequate seats in provincial assemblies, it will be able to take benefit from them in the 2015 Senate polls. But a bad performance will mean that the assemblies will serve out their term by the time the next Senate elections are held in 2018.Observers say that this situation will make it difficult for both the parties to deliver on their promises – especially the commitments involving fresh legislation or constitutional amendments.The PPP claims that on account of its ‘superb’ performance during the past five years it will be able to win the next elections.

 
 
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