Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would not require Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) support to amend Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution after March 2018 Senate elections if MQM-P and independents support it. Party insiders told Business Recorder that the PPP is in danger of becoming irrelevant after March 2018.
When asked if this would mean a deal with the PML-N before March, sources told Business Recorder that at present Nawaz Sharif is showing a desperation to get back into the PM House and Asif Ali Zardari has a window of opportunity of four to five months after which his leverage will decline.
The ruling PML-N requires a two-third majority or support of 70 senators in the 104-member upper house before it can amend the constitution. At present, the PPP has 26 senators and with allied parties it has 57 senators which include Awami National Party (ANP) with six senators, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) with four, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) one, BNP-Awami two, independent 10, Jamaat-e-Islami one and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seven.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has eight members in the Senate but its position is flexible, sources added. At present, PML-N has 27 senators and the number rises to 39 with its coalition partners – JUI-F (five), National Party (three), PML-(F) (one), and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (three). If one adds the MQM-P then at present PML-N has 47 votes – 23 short of a two-third majority in the Senate.
After the 2018 Senate elections in March, PPP would be left with 16 senators (18 retiring and 8 new ones elected); PML-N would have 36 senators making it the largest party in the upper house (9 retiring and 18 elected) and with PML-N’s coalition partners (PMAP will have 6 senators, NP 6, JUI-F 4) it would have a total of 52 senators to support an amendment or 13 more than in the current Senate.
PML-N would still require support of 18 more senators in March 2018 to get the two-third majority for the passage of a constitutional amendment which can be clubbed together by luring 10 independents and 8 MQM senators. Amending Article 62 (1) (f) is the parliament’s prerogative, however the PML-N not only needs to set a time limit for the effectivity of disqualification under this clause and/or provide the right of appeal to one disqualified under this article but also make it retrospective.
Article 62 (1)(f) stipulates that an individual will not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of parliament unless “he is sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law”. To amend any article of the constitution requires a two-third majority in both houses of parliament; and the constitution cannot be amended in a joint sitting. The PML-N can easily cobble a two third majority in the national assembly.