ISLAMABAD - The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has reached a tacit understanding with the Pakistan People’s Party to get the legislation on delimitations from the Upper House of Parliament passed.

Sources in the government confirmed that Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq and Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice Senator Javid Abbasi had been tasked to woo the support of all the parliamentary parties in the Upper House on the important piece of legislation before the 30th of this month to pave the way for the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional census results ahead of the next general election.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has given the November 30 deadline stating that any further delay in legislation on the matter would put holding the next general election on time in the doldrums.

Almost all the political parties from both sides of the aisle in the National Assembly had extended support to the bill tabled in this connection and it was expected that it would easily sail through the Upper House as well where the PPP is the second largest party, after ruling PML-N, with 26 senators.

But the rejection of the amendment moved by the PPP in the Elections Act 2017 in the National Assembly and the hostile position taken by PML-N leadership against the PPP leadership has offended the latter and had forced it to back out from extending support to the government bill on the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional results.

The sources in the PML-N said that both Raja Zafarul Haq and Javid Abbasi have approached main leaders of all parliamentary parties in Upper House to woo their support for the proposed amendment, realizing them about the significance of its passage before the 30th of this month.

The sources confirmed that Leader of Opposition in Senate Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, PTI Parliamentary Leader Azam Sawati, MQM-P chief Dr Farooq Sattar and heads of other parliamentary parties were approached to help the government complete the legislation on delimitation from the Upper House.

The government sources said that almost all the parties including the PPP had given an implicit assurance of extending support to the bill on delimitation and hopefully it would be sailed through Senate today (Monday) or Tuesday upon the availability of the senators because some members of the Upper House could not make it to the capital city due to hurdles created by protesters on main roads leading to Islamabad from Punjab.

Some insiders in PPP said that after the harsh line taken by the PML-N against the party leadership it was decided in a meeting of selected PPP leaders to defer support to the government on the delimitation bill. But a good number of party leaders were of the view that in case the bill failed to pass from the Upper House before the November 30 timeline, by not extending support to the bill, it would bring a negative fallout on the PPP and it would be held responsible for a delay in next general election.

After series of meeting and threadbare deliberations, it was decided to extend support to the bill when it would be put to vote in Senate to avoid any negative impact on the party.  

For the passage of the bill, a two-thirds strength in the Upper House would be required and the figure of 67 could easily be achieved if PML-N having 27 senators would have the backing of 26 PPP senators, 10 senators from FATA, eight from MQM, five from JUI-F, six from ANP and other smaller parties like PMAP, NP and others having three each and two seats respectively. Even the PTI with a strength of seven senators is likely to support the passage of the bill.