Understanding government and politics in Pakistan can be a strenuous challenge for most. It is, indeed, very easy to get lost in the chaos of Pakistani politics. One such aspect of politics that might be confusing for many is the role of the Senate. This article aims to depict the essential role of the Pakistan Senate in our government in 8 simple points.
The Senate provides equal representation to provinces
The Senate of Pakistan is the upper house of the two houses that comprise the Parliament of Pakistan. The other being the National Assembly. The National assembly is different in the sense that it is in place to keep checks on the government’s functioning and to protect rights of the citizens. The Senate, on the other hand, is primarily there to provide equal representation to each province in Pakistan to voice their views.
Composition of the Senate
The Senate of Pakistan consists of 104 members elected indirectly by the Members of the National Assembly and the Members of the Provincial Assemblies:
a) Each of the four Provincial Assemblies elect fourteen Senators on general seats, four women, four technocrats including Ulema (religious scholars) and one on seat reserved for non-Muslim;
b) The Members of the National Assembly from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs) elects eight Senators to represent FATAs;
c) All Members of National Assembly elect two Senators on general seats, one woman and one technocrat or Alim to represent the Federal Capital
Pakistan presently has 18 women senators
Small in population, but female senators play an integral role in the Senate. The law necessitates there to be 17 female senators, however, 18 are part of the Senate currently. Senator Sherry Rehman and Nasreen Jalil have been two of the more public senators when it comes to vocalizing issues. Senator Rehman has been very vocal against the KPK police spray-painting over women’s drawings on trucks and rickshaws. She publicly criticised the government saying, “are women’s faces to be defaced in the Naya Pakistan”. On the other hand, Senator Jalil has been active in a case of sexual assault against a woman in AJK. She’s been advocating action by the AJK government for the victim’s case. The senator has said that a letter will be written to the AJK president to hopefully take action.
The Senators are more important then you might think!
The senators hold extraordinary roles for our country. They are in charge of choosing which parliamentary bill can be passed as law. They are responsible for debating and introducing legislation, as well as making recommendations on financial bills. Also a bill cannot be formed into law unless the Senate, National Assembly and the President sign off on it.
Pakistani Senators tenure is 6 years
Senators remain in power for 6 years in normal conditions. To stand eligible for a Senate seat you need to be at least 30 years old and a registered voter from your area.
What is the Senate up to right now
One of the major new bills being discussed in the Senate currently pertains to the delimitation of Senate seats. According to the new bill, Islamabad and KPK will receive more senators. On the other hand, Punjab’s numbers will decrease. This, in turn, benefits PTI, should they remain in control of KPK after 2018.
The Child Marriage Restraint Act
More controversially there is a bill currently in the Senate that is awaiting approval to be passed as law. That’s the Child Marriage Restraint Act. A girl’s marriage will be disallowed under the age of 18 after this bill. The Senate rejected the bill earlier this year but another round of votes will be carried out soon. Let’s hope our Senate can put their differences aside and be united to ban this disgusting practice.
How can early elections effect the Senate?
It is widely known that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) want general elections to be held earlier than planned. This is because PTI wants the public not to forget the party that was influential in removing Nawaz Sharif. An earlier election would mean a better chance of Imran Khan being elected. This is extremely important because then PML-N will not hold a majority in the Senate. Which in turn causes PTI to have a lot more senators than it does currently. This will, in turn, make it easier for PTI to pass laws and regulations.
As seen briefly, the Senate of Pakistan is an extremely important part of the government’s day-to-day activities. This legislative body of the parliament provides a pathway for development in terms of bills and legislation for our country. These institutions should be strengthened and empowered so they make the right decisions for the citizens of Pakistan. We need to strive for political stability to ensure we have an overall functioning and stable government.