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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

Senate

An indirectly elected component of the Parliament, the Senate aims to give equal representation to each federating unit in order to balance out the advantage bigger provinces enjoy in the National Assembly.

Overview

The Senate is the Upper House in the bi-cameral parliamentary structure; the National Assembly is the Lower House. Since representation in National Assembly is based on area population, meaning more seats for densely populated areas such as Punjab and less for Balochistan, the Senate aims to give equal representation to each federating unit and hence, to prevent domination by one province in the Parliament. The Senate is headed by a Chairman.

Composition

All the four provinces have 23 seats each, while 4 seats are for the Federal Capital and 8 seats are for FATA. This includes not only general seats but also those reserved for technocrats or ulema, women and non-Muslims. No seats were reserved for non-Muslims in the Senate, until the 18th Amendment of 2010, which added 4 seats. Details of the current composition are provided in the table below.

Current Senate Composition
Provinces / Territories
General
Technocrats / Ulema
Women
Non-Muslims
Total
Sindh
14
4
4
1
23
Punjab
14
4
4
1
23
Balochistan
14
4
4
1
23
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
14
4
4
1
23
Federal Capital
2
1
1
4
FATA
8
8
TOTAL
66
17
17
4*
104

Procedure & qualifications for election

The procedure for Senate election involves each of the four provincial assemblies electing 23 members from their respective provinces for the general and reserved seats. For the rest of the seats, 4 members are elected from the Federal Capital and 8 members are elected from FATA in such manner as the President may, by order, prescribe.

Individuals are eligible to contest Senate elections if they meet the following list of qualifications, the individual must be:

  • A citizen of Pakistan
  • Not less than 30 years of age and enrolled as a voter in any area in a province or, as the case may be, the Federal Capital or the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, from where he seeks membership
  • Possess adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings, be of good character, honest, ameen and not commonly known as one who violates Islamic Injunctions
  • Not worked against the integrity of the country or opposed its ideology

Legislative powers

Similar to the National Assembly, the Senate is a federal law-making body and hence authorized to make laws for the federation relating to areas mentioned in a specific list in the Constitution such as the Federal Legislative List. The legislative procedure has already been discussed in the section on National Assembly. As mentioned, Money Bills cannot originate in the Senate; they must originate in the directly-elected National Assembly. A copy is transmitted to the Senate which can make recommendations on that Bill but the National Assembly is not bound to incorporate such recommendations, if any.

Relationship with President & Prime Minister

The Senate is part of the Electoral College that elects the President of the country. Removal or impeachment of the President requires that a resolution to that effect be passed by two-thirds of the total membership of both Houses. 25% of the members in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet are elected from the Senate.

Duration of tenure

Senate members are elected for a term of 6 years but half of its members retire after every 3 years. Unlike the National Assembly, the Senate is a permanent law-making body that is not subject to dissolution by the President.

Primary sources

Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973

Find out more

Books & Articles

International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Pakistan Factsheet: Senate of Pakistan. IFES, 2013.

Websites

Senate of Pakistan: About the Senate


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