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NA will retain 272 seats: Ayaz Sadiq

01 November, 2017

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LAHORE: The National Assembly of Pakistan will retain 272 seats, a decision which was made during the meeting of parliamentary parties.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said that while the number of seats would remain the same, there would be a change in the allocation for provinces.

“The number of seats for Punjab will decrease, KP and Balochistan will see an increase, while an additional seat will be allocated to Islamabad.”

It was decided in the meeting that nine seats from Punjab, out of which seven are general and two are reserved for women, will be decreased. However, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will witness an increase of five seats, of which four will be general seats and one reserved for women candidates.

Balochistan will see an increase of three National Assembly seats, two general and one for women candidates. Sindh and FATA will not see any changes in the number of seats, while the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) will have and increase of one seat in the assembly.

Ayaz Sadiq, talking to the media, elaborated that a short NA session would be held as the “decision has been made in principle” to not increase the number of NA seats, which would remain capped at 272.

He added that after the National Assembly passes the bill, it would be passed on to the Senate.

“We are trying to get it done by Friday, and will then present it (bill) in the Senate,” said Sadiq. The speaker said the decision was made after knowing the time constraints faced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). “All agree that the seats should not be increased.”

The meeting was called after the ECP had given a seven-day deadline to the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry to get the constitution amended to provide legal cover to fresh delimitation before the final results of population census last week.

The constitution stipulates that the ECP can revamp the constituencies only after census data is officially notified. The new election laws say that the ECP has to finalise the polling scheme – and delimitations – at least six months before the general election.

Earlier in the day, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob said that after holding the new census, it was not possible to conduct polls on the old constituencies. Yaqoob said the ECP was worried about the delimitation of constituencies in light of the new census.

He said that the delimitation and work on voters’ lists would be undertaken simultaneously, but added that he feared there would be more room for error if the ECP was given less time for these exercises.

Yaqoob said that even if the government was able to complete the legal formalities with regard to the new constituencies by November 10, the ECP would be able to make it work.

Earlier, Law Minister Zahid Hamid briefed the meeting over the government’s stance on fresh delimitation and sought recommendations from the parliamentary leaders. The meeting was attended by opposition leader Khurshid Shah and Naveed Qamar of the PPP, Ghous Bakhsh Mehar of the PML-F, ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Mehmood Khan Achakzai of PkMAP, MQM-P chief Dr Farooq Sattar, NADRA chairman, ECP secretary and officials of the Statistics Division, among others.

The NA currently consists of 342 seats in total, of which 272 are direct seats. Apart from Punjab’s 148 seats, the Lower House has 61 seats for Sindh, 35 for KP, 14 for Balochistan, 12 for FATA and two for the Islamabad Capital Territory. There are also 60 indirectly elected seats reserved for women and 10 for non-Muslims.

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