The Senate on Friday passed the 24th Constitution Amendment Bill 2017, paving the way for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to use the provisional census data to carry out fresh delimitation of constituencies ahead of the next general elections.
On Thursday, the NA passed the bill by a 242-1 vote after the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi assured the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) that their demand — for independent audit of 5 per cent of census blocks instead of 1 pc — would again be referred to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for approval.
The bill will be signed into law by President Mamnoon Hussain now that it has been passed by both the Upper and Lower houses of Parliament.
Although the number of seats in the National Assembly will remain 272, fresh delimitation would affect Punjab which will lose up to nine seats in the lower house. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will get five new seats, Balochistan three and Islamabad Capital Territory one additional seat.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) will retain its 12 seats in the assembly.
The issue of conducting fresh delimitation of constituencies had been stuck in deadlock for several days till the CCI had on Monday finally agreed to hold the elections on the basis of the provisional census results on the condition that a third-party audit of one per cent of the population blocks would be conducted within three months.
It was on PPP’s demand that the government had convened the CCI meeting realising that the ruling party does not have the required two-thirds majority in the 104-member Senate to get the bill passed.