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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

National Assembly

The National Assembly is the only directly elected component of the Parliament and hence, symbolizes the democratic will of the citizens of Pakistan.

Overview

NA 1 National Assembly coat of arms
(Wikipedia)

The National Assembly is the Lower House in the bi-cameral parliamentary structure, while the Senate is the Upper House. Being a directly elected law-making body, the National Assembly reflects the will of the people of Pakistan to be governed democratically. The National Assembly is headed by the Speaker.

Composition

The seats in the National Assembly are allocated to each province or area on the basis of population. The Code of General Elections Order 2002 has increased the total number of seats available. The total number has increased substantially from 217 to 342. The General Seats are 272, in addition to which, 60 seats have been reserved for women and 10 seats reserved for Non-Muslims.

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National Assembly Number of Seats Comparison
………………………….Previous
Current
Province/Area
General Seats
Non-Muslim Reserved Seats
General Seats
Non-Muslim Reserved Seats
Women’s Reserved Seats
Federal Capital
1
10
2
10
0
Punjab
115
148
35
Sindh
46
61
14
NWFP
26
35
8
FATAs
8
12
0
Balochistan
11
14
3
Total seats by type
207
10
272
10
60
Total seats overall in National Assembly
217
242

Procedure & qualifications for election

NA 2 National Assembly in session
(National Assembly of Pakistan Gazette)

Citizens of Pakistan vote directly for the National Assembly. In order to vote for the National Assembly, a person must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be a citizen of Pakistan
  • Not less than eighteen years of age
  • Name appears on the electoral roll
  • Not declared to be of unsound mind by a competent court

Individuals are eligible to be elected as members of the National Assembly if they meet a list of qualifications. The individual standing in the election must be:

  • A citizen of Pakistan
  • Not less than 25 years of age and should be enrolled as a voter in any electoral roll of any part of Pakistan (for election to a General Seat or a seat reserved for non-Muslims) or any area in a province from which she seeks membership for election to a seat reserved for women
  • In possession of adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings, be of good character, honest, ameen and not commonly known as one who violates Islamic Injunctions
  • An individual who has not worked against the integrity of the country or opposed its ideology

Legislative powers & procedure

This House makes laws for the Federation relating to the specific areas mentioned in the Federal Legislative List(as described in the Constitution). The Legislative procedure is as follows:

  • A Bill regarding a matter on the Federal Legislative List may originate in either of the two Houses (National Assembly or Senate), except Money Bills, which can only originate in the National Assembly. In all other cases, if the House in which it originates passes it by a majority vote, the Bill is transmitted to the other House.
  • If the other House passes it without amendment, it is then presented to the President for assent. If the other House passes it with amendments, it is sent back to the House from which it originated and if that House passes the Bill with those amendments,then the Bill is presented to the President for assent.
  • When a Bill is presented to the President for gaining assent, he/she is required to give assent within 10 days. If it is not a Money Bill, he/she may return it to the Parliament requesting that the Bill or any specific provision(s)be reconsidered and subsequent amendments be made. The Parliament reconsiders the Bill in a joint sitting and if it passes it again (with or without amendment) by a majority vote from both Houses that are present and voting, then the Bill is presented to the President again for assent. He/she again will be required to give assent within 10 days. If he/she fails to do so, such assent shall be deemed to have been given.
  • When the President has assented or is deemed to have assented to a Bill, it will become law and be known as an Act of Parliament.

Relationship with President & Prime Minister

NA 3 Jinnah speaking to Constituent Assembly
(Wikipedia)

The President, who is the Head of the State, is elected by an Electoral College comprising the National Assembly, Senate and Provincial Assemblies. The President can be removed from office if a resolution to this effect is passed by two-thirds of the total members of Parliament through a joint sitting.

The Chief Executive, the Prime Minister, who holds the real power in this parliamentary system, is elected from the National Assembly. The Prime Minister’s Cabinet, which advises the President regarding various Presidential duties, is dominated by the National Assembly i.e. 75% of its members are appointed from the National Assembly whereas the remaining 25% are selected from the Senate.

The National Assembly can democratically remove the Prime Minister by passing a resolution of no-confidence. If this resolution is passed by the majority of total members of the National Assembly, then the Prime Minister immediately ceases to hold office. To scrutinize the Prime Minister’s actions, several powers have been awarded to the National Assembly including adjournment motions, a question hour, Standing Committees and Public Accounts Committee. The aim is to ensure that the government does not violate the boundaries set by the Constitution.

Duration of tenure

The National Assembly is elected for a term of five years. This is unless it is dissolved earlier by the President, who has the power to do so on the advice of the Prime Minister. However, in a situation where emergency is proclaimed, the Parliament can extend the term beyond five years.

Primary sources

Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973

Find out more

Websites

National Assembly of Pakistan: About the National Assembly
Elections.com.pk: Parliament


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