ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has decided to evolve strategy to get the constitutional amendment bill regarding delimitation of constituencies passed with the consensus of all the opposition parties.

The Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2017, could not be taken up by the PML-N in the National Assembly for legislation for lack of required strength (228 members) and strong opposition from Pakistan People’s Party.

The PML-N will hold its parliamentary committee meeting on Tuesday to chalk out a strategy to get the bill regarding delimitation of constituencies passed. “The PML-N parliamentary committee meeting will discuss the issue on Tuesday. The party meeting will ensure passage of the constitutional amendment before November 10,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab exclusively shared with The Nation.

The government side, the minister said, will make efforts to get the constitutional amendment passed with consensus. All the parliamentary parties agreed to it in a meeting chaired by National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, he said.

Sources in PML-N said a delegation will also hold a meeting with Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah to woo the opposition to give nod for the constitutional amendment.

PPP wants to refer the bill to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to fulfil all the constitutional and legal formalities. “PML-N delegation will try to convince PPP to secure its support for the constitutional amendment,” the sources said. The constitutional amendment, according to the rules and procedures, can be adopted with the support of total 228 votes in the house.

PTI, the second largest opposition party, had already assured the speaker of supporting the bill in the house in the current National Assembly session. The PML-N government has, however, failed in the National Assembly so far to prove its numerical strength to get the constitutional amendment bill passed.

The house the other day witnessed very thin presence from both sides of the aisle as hardly 50 lawmakers were present during the proceedings. The government side, due to thin presence, avoided to take up the agenda item as the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ was on the order of the day.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill states: “Article 51 (5) of the Constitution provides that seats in the National Assembly shall be allocated to each province, the Fata and the federal capital on the basis of population in accordance with the census report officially published.”

It said there is a consensus among the political parties that for the purposes of the next general elections to be held in 2018 and by-elections related thereto, allocation of the National Assembly seats should be made on the basis of provisional results of the 2017 census without changing the existing total number of general seats (272) and women seats (60), retaining the 12 seats of the Fata.

According to the proposed reallocation, two general seats and one female seat will increase for Balochistan, four general seats and one female for KP and one for the federal capital while seats of the Punjab will decrease while seats of Sindh will remain the same.

According to the bill, the total number of NA seats will remain 272, but there would be a change in the allocation of NA seats for the provinces. Under this criterion, the general seats of the Punjab will be reduced to 141 from 148 and reserved seats for women will be minimised from 35 to 33, KP seats will increase from 35 to 39 and reserved seats for women from eight to nine.

Similarly, the National Assembly seats for Balochistan will increase from 14 to 16 and reserved seats for women from three to four while Islamabad’s general seats will see an increase of one seat.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s schedule, the next elections could either take place by the end of July or before August 5, 2018. The constitutional amendment for delimitation of constituencies is important as the ECP has made it clear that it needs powers to begin the exercise by November 10 so that it could be completed by April.