Down but not out PML-N set to get delimitation bill sail through Senate today | Pakistan Today

Down but not out PML-N set to get delimitation bill sail through Senate today

  • PTI, ANP, JI, MQM, others likely to support govt-proposed bill

  • PPP also lends conditional support to delimitations bill

  • Rehman Malik tells Pakistan Today his party is still discussing the issue

ISLAMABAD: Despite successive political debacles in the recent times, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is all set to get the controversial piece of legislation—the delimitation bill—through the upper house of the Parliament today (Monday).

Divisions among the opposition have proved to be a good news for the ruling party as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP), Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A) and BNP-Mengal have decided to support the bill.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been adamant not to support the government-proposed delimitation bill due to its reservations over the latest census. However, Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM-Pakistan) had similar reservations but decided to support the bill nonetheless.

Hence, the federal government now is in a position to get the delimitation bill passed through the Senate—where it lacks the simple majority.

Therefore, a two-thirds majority is a distant dream, as the opposition parties are in majority and they had also got a PPP nominee elected as Senate chairman.

The rare achievement has become possible despite fierce opposition from the PPP whose leadership had not only objected to the recent census results but also vowed to block the bill to be tabled by the treasury benches.

The PML-N has recently become the largest political party in the Senate with its numerical strength of 27 members, whereas the PPP has been reduced to 26 members due to the resignation tendered by Senator Babar Awan, who joined PTI.

However, the PML-N still lacked the support of a two-thirds majority as it needed the support of at least 70 members, which it did not have. Despite its numerical weakness, the PML-N has been able to convince some opposition parties to support the delimitations bill as its bitter opponent party—PTI—has agreed to support the delimitation bill.

Sources in the federal government told Pakistan Today that not only the PTI had agreed to support the bill, other smaller parties—like ANP, ten lawmakers from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), BNP-A, National Party (NP), BNP-Mengal and others—had also agreed to support it.

The sources said that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was active in ensuring that not only all the lawmakers of the ruling party attend the crucial session being held today (Monday) but also all the political parties of the ruling coalition are also being approached to ensure maximum attendance.

The source added that the federal government was also in touch with the PPP leadership, and the party had agreed to lend its “conditional support” to the government’s bill.

“The PPP has attached strings to its support to the bill. It has made it clear to the federal government that it should give assurance that despite delimitation bill being passed, the clauses would be drafted in a manner that the constitutional amendment would only be applicable for the upcoming election to be held in the year 2018,” the source said.

When contacted, PTI senior leader Naeem-ul-Haq confirmed that his party had decided to support the government’s bill being tabled today.

“We want to ensure that the next elections are held on time. We don’t want to provide anyone with an excuse to delay the upcoming polls. Therefore, we are going ahead with the bill, and, despite some reservations, PTI would support the delimitation bill,” he said.

ANP spokesman Zahid Khan, on the other hand, dropped a bombshell by admonishing the PPP leadership for not supporting the delimitation bill.

“We hope that the PPP would accept the rights of smaller provinces, including Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. We hope that the PPP would not oppose to rights of Baloch and Pashtun population. We hope that the party would support the delimitation bill, and it would no longer block the important legislation. We also hope that the party would ensure all its lawmakers attend Senate session,” the statement of ANP spokesman said.

A senator of the PPP, requesting anonymity, told this scribe that the party would support the delimitation bill.

Senator Rehman Malik, however, told Pakistan Today that the party was still discussing the matter and there was no decision made as of yet.

“The party is doing consultation within the party and other parties, and the decision will be taken in the interest of democracy and public interest,” the senior PPP leader concluded.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

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