20th Constitutional Amendment: Government lacks majority in Senate to get bill passed -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

20th Constitutional Amendment: Government lacks majority in Senate to get bill passed

* Govt has approval of almost 34 of 100 members in Upper House
* Some PPP senators unwilling to support bill

By Manzoor Qadir

ISLAMABAD: The government seems ready to get The Constitution (Twentieth Amendment Bill), 2012, passed from the National Assembly after successful negotiations between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and opposition forces. However, it will face trouble getting the nod on the same in Senate, Daily Times has learnt.

The government has managed to convince the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on the matter, and has managed to get its support after hectic negotiations. So, the Lower House of parliament is likely to pass the bill during this week.

However, the PPP lacks the necessary majority to get the bill approved by the Upper House, as a majority of the members are reluctant to give “go ahead” to the bill easily.

According to the constitution, a constitutional amendment bill can be passed by the votes of “not less than two-thirds of the total membership of both the Houses of parliament in their separate sittings”.

The constitution further describes it as “a bill, passed by one House and also passed by the other, without amendment, by votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership, is presented to the president for assent under Clause 2 of Article 239”.

According to reliable sources, some powerful members representing the coalition parties of the PPP-led government – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) – were reluctant to support The Constitution (Twentieth Amendment Bill), 2012.

“Out of 100 seats of the Upper House, the PPP will manage to gain support of only 27 PPP senators and seven PML-N senators, which makes it 34 votes,” a source said, adding that the party might get one additional vote from any other party.

To get the bill adopted, the PPP seeks 67 votes from the Upper House, which apparently is an impossible task for PPP at present, as members of the Senate have decided not to get the resolution adopted easily.

Sources claimed that members of the Senate are “unhappy” with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his federal cabinet for “not paying due attention and importance” to the Upper House. They said that even some PPP senators were apparently not ready to favour the bill.

The MQM, ANP, PML-Q (Likeminded), Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) have already decided to oppose the bill. The situation is likely to kill the efforts of the government in getting the legislation adopted in the Senate.

Sources told the scribe that the PPP had decided to bring forth The Constitution (Twentieth Amendment Bill), 2012, after the Senate elections to avoid any such opposition, adding that the case then would also not be much different from the present scenario.

However, they said the government would get the bill passed from the Lower House within this week, as recent negotiations between the government and the PML-N had remained fruitful.

Source: Daily Times