The tricky issue of delimitation

Pakistan News 0 Comment 2

Now that the federal cabinet has agreed to carry out the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of the provisional census data, the numbers game in parliament has suddenly become the new focal point of discussion. Lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) do not appear to favour any increase in the number of general seats in the National Assembly — one of the options open to members of the lower house — from 272 to 300. Most of them question the utility of such a move in view of political and economic uncertainty in the country. Those in favour of apportioning more general seats appear to stand on firmer ground because the provisional census data demands a demographic dividend — which should ultimately accrue to parliament. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has wisely given cabinet members more time to settle the issue.

Should the cabinet back the proposal to increase parliamentary seats, PML-N lawmakers would first have to draw up a constitutional amendment and achieve consensus on it after consulting opposition groups on the efficacy of the move.

The last increase in NA seats came almost a decade and a half ago before the 2002 elections were called by military ruler General Pervez Musharraf. The move was preceded by the passage of a constitutional amendment which was endorsed by parliament as the 17th Constitutional Amendment. Since then, the population has increased tremendously.

There are legislative hurdles to clear first. Parliament will have to enact a piece of legislation empowering the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to carry out the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of the latest census results. Since the term of the present government is expected to end on May 31, there is little time to conduct a fresh delimitation of constituencies — given that the final results of the census will only be available in April 2018. By allowing the ECP to use provisional census statistics the government has temporarily resolved the issue of complaints about the census results, mainly from Sindh. This may, however, leave one too many issues on the back burner.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2017.

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The post The tricky issue of delimitation appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Source: Tribune News | The tricky issue of delimitation

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