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Panel meets on 12th to consider proposal for retention of Senate strength

ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel will meet on Wednesday (Feb 12) to consider Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani’s proposal for retention of the numerical strength in the upper house of parliament at 104 after retirement of eight senators from erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice, headed by Javed Abbasi of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), will discuss and decide on the proposal to equally distribute eight seats from the tribal areas among the four provinces.

The meeting was previously scheduled to be held on Jan 30 but was postponed for unexplained reasons.

The proposal had been floated by Mr Sanjrani during the proceedings of the house and was referred to the standing committee. The law minister is an ex-officio member of the 11-member body. The other members of the panel include former Senate chairmen Mian Raza Rabbani and Farooq H. Naek, and Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Senator Sirajul Haq. PTI Senators Waleed Iqbal and Zeeshan Khanzada are also part of the committee.

Eight seats of erstwhile Fata to be shared by provinces

The Senate chairman had proposed to keep the current numerical strength intact and distribute eight seats of erstwhile Fata among the four provinces by equally increasing the number of general seats to 25 instead of 23.

He proposed that four seats (one for each province) be increased in the forthcoming election of the Senate scheduled to be held in March 2021 and four more seats (one for each province) be increased in the elections of the Senate to be held in March 2024 with a view to providing for continuity in terms of the total number of seats.

In a letter addressed to the law and justice standing committee chairman Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Mr Sanjrani referred the matter to his panel to examine, deliberate and submit a report with recommendations, including suggestions for a constitutional amendment.

In his letter, he highlighted that the term of office of four members out of the existing eight members from Fata shall expire on March 11, 2021, whereas the term of office of the remaining four shall expire on March 11, 2024. As a result, the number of members of the Senate would be reduced to 100 in March, 2021 after expiry of term of four members from erstwhile Fata and to 96 after the expiry of term of remaining four members from Fata in March, 2024.

Each province currently has 23 seats in Senate, which includes 14 general seats, four reserved seats each for women and technocrats and one for non-Muslims. The federal capital has four seats, including two general and one each reserved for women and technocrats.

The tribal areas have eight general seats which will cease to exist after retirement of four senators each in 2021 and 2024.

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