ISLAMABAD - After failure to persuade the opposition parties in the Parliament to smoothly pass a constitutional amendment regarding delimitation of constituencies, the federal government has finally called a meeting of the Council of Common Interests to discuss the contentious matter.

The CCI meeting which will mainly deliberate the issue of delimitation of constituencies has been called for Monday (November 13) to take up the reservations of the smaller provinces as well as Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM).

At the three meetings held last week with National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq in the chair, the heads of parliamentary parties could not reach a consensus on the delimitation issue in light of the provisional population census results.

The government faced opposition mainly from PPP as its leaders did not budge an inch from their demand to first discuss the issue at the CCI forum.

The chief ministers of all the four provinces have been informed about the agenda of the upcoming CCI meeting. Federal ministers for finance, law, inter-provincial coordination and others will also participate in the CCI meeting on special invitation.

The stalemate mainly emerged at the 48th National Assembly session when the PML-N government thrice failed to get the constitutional amendment passed for which the lower house required 228 votes. PPP with its 47 MNAs was not ready to vote for the amendment unless the CCI deliberated the issue. Likewise, the support of MQM with its 24 votes was also uncertain as its lawmakers had expressed reservations over delimitation of constituencies in Sindh, especially in Karachi.

The upcoming CCI meeting will try to remove the deadlock over the constitutional amendment which would increase NA seats of two provinces.

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

It further says: “There is 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 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 share of Fata (12).”

According to the proposed reallocation, seats of Balochistan will increase (2 general seats, 1 woman seat), Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (4+1) and federal capital (1) while seats of Punjab will decrease and those of Sindh will remain the same. According to the bill, total NA seats will remain 272, but there will be a change in the allocation of NA seats for the provinces.

Parliamentary sources say the government will summon the National Assembly session soon after the CCI resolves the delimitation issue. The 49th National Assembly session will be called next week on the constitutional amendment bill.

On the other hand, PPP, PTI, MQM and Jamaat-e-Islami have filed requisition in the National Assembly Secretariat for the 49th session.