Pakistani Senate seeks constitutional amendments toward a 'true' federation, enhance its powers
The Senate yesterday unanimously adopted a resolution seeking to enhance role and powers of the Upper House to protect the rights of the federating units and ensure their meaningful participation in the affairs of the federation.
The resolution, moved by Leader of the House Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq and supported by all parliamentary leaders, recommended to the government to amend 11 articles of the Constitution to empower the house especially in terms of voting at the joint sitting of the Parliament.
The resolution was presented in the house in line with a decision made at the Business Advisory Committee. Just before the house passed the resolution, Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani reiterated the resolve of the house to continue concerted efforts for enhancing its powers and having more vibrant role in the parliamentary democratic system in the country.
The house was unanimous on the resolution as it was less empowered in various areas. The chair said. “It will be our common agenda during the next parliamentary year of the Senate to pursue implementation of this resolution as amendment in article 72 is the most important amendment,” he added.
The house in its resolution also resolved to continue its struggle for ‘enhancement of the role and powers of the Senate to make Pakistan a true federation as envisaged by the Constitution’. It resolved for the protection and representation of interests and rights of the federating units and the people of Pakistan; marginalized segments of society; and ethnic minorities.
Furthermore, it resolved to transmit fruits of democracy to the people of Pakistan; undertaking legislation that translates policies for the welfare and betterment of the federation, the Federating Units and its citizenry and ensuring that devolution of subjects and powers takes place and remains within the constitutional parameters. It also resolved safeguarding the interest of the country in the wake of emerging regional and global realities.
The resolution recommended that Article 57 shall be amended to provide that the chief ministers of the provinces shall have the right to address the Senate, as and when invited. While in article 72, in clause (4) a provision shall be added, namely, ‘provided that one vote of a Member of Senate shall be proportionate to the total number of seats in the National Assembly divided by the total number of seats in the Senate.’ In Article 73, in clause (1A) a proviso shall be inserted, namely, ‘provided that simultaneously the National Assembly shall inform the Senate about the status of recommendations of the Senate on the Bill, which shall include details as to the recommendations incorporated in the Bill and recommendations not incorporated, along with the reasons for non-incorporation’.
Another important amendment proposed by the Senate in article 160 states: ‘if the next Award of National Finance Commission could not be announced within five years, the Government shall take permission from the Senate to extend the previous award for another year’.