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Overview of Article 51 of the Constitution of Pakistan
The Constitution of Pakistan, first created in 1973, stands as the cornerstone of the Pakistani government and serves to uphold democratic principles. Of all its numerous articles, Article 51 stands out in shaping Pakistani politics by outlining composition and seat allocation within Pakistan’s lower house of Parliament (National Assembly). In this blog post we’ll dive deep into Article 51’s essential elements while unpacking its key role within democratic structures like Pakistan.
Article 51 States
51. National Assembly
- There shall be three hundred and thirty-six seats for members in the National Assembly, including seats reserved for women and non-Muslims.
- A person shall be entitled to vote if-
- he is a citizen of Pakistan;
- he is not less than eighteen years of age;
- his name appears on the electoral roll; and
- he is not declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind;
- The seats in the National Assembly referred to in clause (1), except as provided in clause (4), shall be allocated to each Province and the Federal Capital as under-
|General Seats||Women Seats||Total Seats|
- Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (l) or any other law for the time being in force, the members of the National Assembly from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to be elected in the general elections, 2018 shall continue till dissolution of the National Assembly and thereafter this clause shall stand omitted.
- In addition to the number of seats referred to in clause (3), there shall be, in the National Assembly, ten seats reserved for non-Muslims.
- The seats in the National Assembly shall be allocated to each province and the Federal Capital on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding census officially published:
Provided that for purposes of the next general elections to be held in 2018 and bye-elections related thereto, the allocation shall be made on the basis of provisional results of the 2017 census which shall be published by the Federal Government.
- For the purpose of election to the National Assembly,-
- the constituencies for the general seats shall be single member territorial constituencies and the members to fill such seats shall be elected by direct and free vote in accordance with law;
- each Province shall be a single constituency for all seats reserved for women which are allocated to the respective Provinces under clause (3);
- the constituency for all seats reserved for non-Muslims shall be the whole country;
- members to the seats reserved for women which are allocated to a Province under clause (3) shall be elected in accordance with law through proportional representation system of political parties’ lists of candidates on the basis of total number of general seats secured by each political party from the Province concerned in the National Assembly:
Provided that for the purpose of this sub-clause the total number of general seats won by a political party shall include the independent returned candidate or candidates who may duly join such political party within three days of the publication in the official Gazette of the names of the returned candidates;
- members to the seats reserved for non-Muslims shall be elected in accordance with law through proportional representation system of political parties’ lists of candidates on the basis of total number of general seats won by each political party in the National Assembly:
Provided that for the purpose of this sub-clause the total number of general seats won by a political party shall include the independent returned candidate or candidates who may duly join such political party within three days of the publication in the official Gazette of the names of the returned candidates.
Key Points of Article 51 of the Constitution of Pakistan
- Number of Seats: Under Article 51(1), the National Assembly contains 336 seats total, including those reserved for women and non-Muslims – an important way to promote diversity and inclusivity within its processes.
- Qualifications for Voting: Article 51(2) sets forth the eligibility requirements to cast a vote in Pakistan. In order to be eligible, an individual must be at least eighteen years old and registered on the electoral roll; they also cannot have been declared by an appropriate court as unsound mentally – criteria necessary for upholding electoral integrity.
- Allocation of Seats: Under Article 51(3), each province and Federal Capital Territory receive an allocation formula to determine how the National Assembly seats should be distributed based on population – this helps uphold proportionality principles.
- Representation of FATA: Article 51(3A) addresses the unique situation presented by Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It stipulates that members elected from FATA during 2018 general elections will continue serving until dissolution of the National Assembly is announced; after which time this clause shall be dropped to accommodate for the evolving political landscape. This provision allows for optimal representation in FATA.
- Reserved Seats for Non-Muslims: Article 51(4) emphasizes the significance of diversity and inclusivity by allocating ten seats specifically to non-Muslim minorities within the National Assembly, thus guaranteeing their interests are adequately represented within legislative processes.
- Basis of Seat Allocation: Article 51(5) details a method for allocating seats according to population as measured in the last official census, with provisional results from 2017 being used in 2018 general elections and bye-elections for fair and equitable representation in politics. This approach seeks to foster fairness and equity within our political system.
- Election Process: Article 51(6) provides details on the election process for the National Assembly. It specifies single-member territorial constituencies as general seats, proportional representation systems for women’s seats in provinces and non-Muslim seats at national levels as well as proportional representation systems that ensure diversity is adequately represented within parliament. This complex system ensures all voices are adequately represented.
Crux of Article 51 of the Constitution of Pakistan
Article 51 is at the core of representation in the National Assembly, providing an inclusive environment where democracy, inclusivity and proportional representation are upheld. Furthermore, Article 51 promotes an environment in which every citizen regardless of background or faith deserves an opportunity to have their voice heard within its legislative process.
Allocating seats based on population is a fundamental element of ensuring that Pakistani parliament reflects the demographic reality of its nation. Furthermore, Pakistan has created reserved seats for women and non-Muslims to underscore its commitment to diversity and gender equality in its political institutions.
Furthermore, the provision related to FATA recognizes the changing political dynamics in different regions of Pakistan, showing its adaptability in adapting to evolving circumstances.
Conclusion: Article 51 of the Constitution of Pakistan
Article 51 of Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution stands as an enduring reminder of their nation’s commitment to democratic governance, diversity and inclusivity. It outlines the structure of the National Assembly ensuring every voice is heard while upholding proportional representation principles.
Pakistan is a diverse and dynamic nation, and Article 51 serves as an invaluable tool in maintaining political equilibrium and ensuring the parliament accurately represents its constituents. By exploring Article 51 in detail, we gain an appreciation for its significance in shaping Pakistan’s democratic identity.
The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan with Article 51 as one of its cornerstones continues to guide Pakistan along its journey toward democratic governance, justice, and rule of law. It also serves to reflect its democratic fabric by embodying representation and inclusivity – essential features that ensure its future growth and development.