The Parliament of Pakistan, per the Constitution of 1973, follows a bicameral system. As outlined by Article 50 of the Constitution, the Parliament of Pakistan comprises the President as well as two legislative bodies referred to as the National Assembly and the Senate.
This arrangement ensures a comprehensive representation of the people’s interests, allowing for a robust and inclusive political system in Pakistan.
The National Assembly serves as the lower house, consisting of elected representatives from various constituencies across the country. On the other hand, the Senate represents the upper house, with members elected by the members of provincial assemblies.
Together, these two houses play a crucial role in the legislative process, making important decisions and enacting policies that shape the political landscape of Pakistan.
A political party or coalition must win more seats in the NA than any other single party or alliance to form a government. A simple majority would require 169 seats or more for a party or coalition.
Next, the speaker, deputy speaker, and prime minister would be chosen by this party.
It’s critical to comprehend the differences between reserved and regular seats in light of the impending elections in Pakistan.
Let’s examine the makeup and distribution of the NA seats among Sindh, Punjab, Islamabad, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The general seats are ones in which candidates run for election directly. There is no gender or minority group reservation for these seats.
General seats are open to contest by any eligible candidate.
As per the recent census, the total general seats in NA are 266. Of them, 141 seats are in Punjab, 61 in Sindh, 45 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 16 in Balochistan and three in Islamabad.
Before the total number was 272, with seats of the ex-Fata reduced from 12 to six after its merger with KP.
Now the question arises as to how these seats are allocated. Seats in the NA are allocated to each province and the capital based on population following the last preceding census officially published.
Punjab got the highest number due to its population size, while the rest got a proportionate number of seats. This is done to uphold the principles of fairness and representation of all provinces.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked the political parties to ensure a 5 percent representation of women in general seats for the February 8 elections.
To encourage women’s participation in the legislative houses, special provisions were included in the 1973 Constitution.
A political party gets one woman’s reserved seat for every 3.5 general seats.
The total number of seats in the NA are 336 out of which 266 are general, while 60 are reserved for women.
Punjab has 32 women seats, Sindh 14, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 10, and 4 seats are reserved from Balochistan.
All political parties submit a list of nominated women candidates for these reserved seats, and the ECP allocates seats to parties based on their overall performance.
Parties with higher shares of the general seats also receive a proportionate number of reserved seats for women.
These seats are allocated to different provinces based on their respective minority populations. They have equal rights to contest general seats as equal citizens.
These seats are allocated to parties according to the proportion of general seats they have bagged in the election. The allocation of non-Muslim seats is not province-wise, it is based on the overall distribution of seats in the NA.
The goal is to ensure that minorities from across the country have representation at the federal level.
After polls, political parties submit lists of nominated candidates from minority communities for the reserved seats.