From Left to Right: Mr. Zafarullah khan, Mr. I.A Rehman, Prof. Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Senator Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed, and mr. Shahzada Zulifiqar during a Roundtable Discussion on Senate Reforms in Pakistan.
All federations agree that federal system should be comprised of two houses of parliament; National Assembly, based on population; one citizen one vote, and other is the Senate based on territories of the states. The bicameral legislature is of vital importance in ensuring the equalization of participation for all federing units.
Following are the recommendations/suggestions which came out of a roundtable conference on ‘Senate reforms in Pakistan’ organized by the centre for civic education.
1. There is a need to ensure the continuity of democratic processes to create vibrant political culture so that the issue of representation and effective mechanism with constitutional protection becomes reality.
2. All stakeholders must respect the political institutions and their constitutional mandate.
3. Senators should be elected directly.
4. Seats allocated for technocrates and ulema should be done away with.
5. Representation in the Senate should be made on the basis of different regions within each province.
6. Federally Administered Tribal Areas should be given only an observer status in the Senate.
7. Senate should be empowered to effectively discuss, debate, and approve the budget and should be given more time for deliberation on the same.
8. Senate’s Human Rights Committee should be empowered. The committee should have fifty percent representation from the opposition benches.
9. Time period for debate on the budget should be increased.
Summary of the Notes of reiteration regarding Senate reforms:
Following two notes were written by Senator Haji Adeel and Senator Afrasiab Khattak, Awami National Party.
1. Money bill, foreign assistance, debt raising and monetary expansion shall be subject to mandatory approved of the Senate.
2. The age for National Assembly membership may be increased to 30 years and for the Senate to 40 years.
Following two notes were written by Prof. Khurshid Ahmed, Jamate e Islami Pakistan.
3. Senate is elected indirectly. Political parties can award tickets to the minorities therefore there is no need reserve seats for them.
4. the Senate shall be directly elected(proportional representation). It shall have role in the election of the Prime Minister and adoption of Money Bill.
The following note was written by Senator Shahid Bugti, Jamhori Watan party, Senator Israrullah Zehri, Balochistan National Party Awami, Senator Dr. Abdul Malik, National Party.
5. Money Bill powers for the Senate.
Following two notes were written by the PakhtoonKhawa Awami Mili Party.
6. The Senate Shall have role in Money Bill, role in election or vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister, Money Bill can originate in either House of the Parliament.
7. Appointments of Ambassadors shall be subject to the approval of the Senate.
Changes in the Senate after the 18th and the 19th Amendments
1. Report on the principles of policy before the Senate.(Article 29, Clause 3)
2. If Senate is in session no ordinance can be promulgated. (Article 89, Clause 1)
3. The Cabinet will be collective responsible to the Parliament including the Senate. (Article 91, Clause 6)
4. Role in the Parliamentary committee for appointment of judges. (Article 175, Clause 9)
5. Role of the Senate in the Election Commission in case of dissolution of the National Assembly. (Article 213, Clause 2B)
6. Emergency to be separately endorsed by the Senate. (Article 232, Clause 1, Para3)
7. Time period for debate on budget in the Senate increased 7 days to 14 days. (Article 73, Clause 1, 1A)
8. The Senator will seek membership and will be elected from the constituency where he/she is enrolled as a voter. (Article 62, Clause 1, Selection c)
9. With the inclusion of four non-Muslims, one from each province, the number of seats in the Senate has increased to 104. (Article 59, Clause 1, Section f)
To inform the debatethe project has also produced a reaserch paper on ‘Senate Reforms in Pakistan‘ authore by Senator Sanaullah Baloch.