After Independence, the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, elected in December 1945 in undivided India, was assigned the task of framing the Constitution of Pakistan. This Assembly passed the Objectives Resolution on 12th March, 1949, laying down principles which later became substantive part of the Constitution of Pakistan. However, before it could accomplish the task of framing the constitution, it was dissolved in October, 1954. Thereafter, the Governor General, convened the Second Constituent Assembly in May, 1955, which framed and passed the first Constitution of Pakistan on 29th February, 1956. That Constitution was promulgated on 23rd March 1956, which provided for a parliamentary form of Government with a unicameral legislature. However, from 14th August 1947 to 1st March 1956 the Government of India Act, 1935, was retained as the Constitution of Pakistan.
On October 7, 1958, Martial Law was promulgated and the Constitution abrogated. The Military Government appointed a Constitution Commission in February, 1960 which framed the 1962 Constitution. That Constitution provided for a Presidential form of Government with a unicameral legislature. The 1962 Constitution was abrogated on 25th March, 1969. The Civil Government, which came to power in December 1971 pursuant to 1970 elections, gave the nation an interim Constitution in the year 1972.
The 1970 Assembly framed the 1973 Constitution which was passed on 12th April and promulgated on 14th August 1973. The 1973 Constitution provides for a parliamentary form of Government with a bicameral legislature, comprising of the National Assembly and the Senate.
The membership of the Senate, which was originally 45, was raised to 63 in 1977 and to 87 in 1985. The membership of the Senate was again raised from 87 to 100 in 2002.
Purpose & RoleThe main purpose for the creation of the Senate of Pakistan was to give equal representation to all the federating units since the membership of the National Assembly was based on the population of each province. Equal provincial membership in the Senate, thus, balances the provincial inequality in the National Assembly and dispels doubts and apprehension, if any, regarding deprivation and exploitation.
The role of the Senate is to promote national cohesion and harmony and to alleviate fears of the smaller provinces regarding domination by any one province because of its majority, in the National Assembly.
The Senate, is a body which represents the provinces/territories of the country and promotes a feeling of equality, peace and harmony, which is so essential for the growth and prosperity of a nation. Thus, the Senate in Pakistan, over the years, has emerged as an essential organ and a stabilizing factor of the federation.
Relationship between Constituent's of the Parliament
a) President and Parliament: Under Article 50 of the Constitution, the Majlis-i-Shoora (Parliament) of Pakistan consists of the President and two Houses to be known respectively as the National Assembly and the Senate.
The President is elected by members of both Houses of the Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies. The President may be removed from office or impeached through a resolution, passed by not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the Parliament in a joint sitting of the two Houses, convened for the purpose.
The Constitution empowers the President to dissolve the National Assembly in his discretion if a situation has arisen in which the Government of the Federation cannot be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and an appeal to the electorate is necessary. The President in case of dissolution of National Assembly shall within fifteen days of the dissolution refer the matter to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court shall decide the reference within thirty days whose decision shall be final. However, the Senate is not subject to dissolution.
In case the office of the President becomes vacant for any reason, the Chairman, or if he is unable to perform the functions of the office of the President, the Speaker, acts as President till such time that a President is elected. Same is the case when the President by reason of absence from Pakistan or any other cause is unable to perform his functions.
b) Relations between the Houses: Unless both the Houses pass a Bill and it receives President's assent it cannot become a law except in the case of a money bill which is the sole prerogative of the National Assembly. Through an amendment, the role of a Mediation Committee, comprising of eight members of each House, has been introduced to evolve consensus on Bills, in case there is a disagreement between the two Houses.
c) Cabinet: The Constitution provides that there shall be a Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister which is collectively responsible to the National Assembly. The Prime Minister is chosen from the National Assembly.
The Federal Ministers and Ministers of State are appointed from amongst the members of Parliament. However, the number of Federal Ministers and Ministers of State who are members of Senate, shall not at any time, exceed one fourth of the numbers of Federal Ministers.