World Bulletin / News Desk
Over 100 million voters, which constitute almost half of the country’s total population, will vote for some 272 general seats of the lower house and 577 general seats of the four provincial assemblies.
Pakistan’s Parliament consists of the two Houses known as the National Assembly (lower house) and the Senate (upper house).
The National Assembly members are elected through direct franchise for five years, whereas the senators are elected by the national Assembly members for a period of six years.
The National Assembly has a total of 342 seats, of which 272 are filled through direct elections while 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 for religious minorities. Reserved seats are later allotted to the parties as per their number of general seats.
According to data released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), around 12,027 candidates are in the run for the national and provincial assembly seats. Of them, 3,631 candidates will contest for the general seats of National Assembly while 8,396 are running for the general seats of the four provincial assemblies.
Punjab -- the country’s most populous and richest province -- has the highest number of seats (148); whereas the mineral-rich Balochistan, the smallest province in terms of population but the largest in terms of land, has only 14 National Assembly seats.
The Federal Administered Tribal Area (FATA), a conglomerate of several tribal regions along the Afghanistan border, has 12 seats, while three seats are allocated for the federal capital Islamabad.
The second largest southern Sindh province, and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) have 61 and 35 National Assembly seats, respectively.
Punjab, which constitutes around 60 percent of the country’s total population usually decides which party will form the federal government.
Punjab Assembly comprises the highest number of members i.e. 371 followed by Sindh Assembly (168), KP Assembly (124), and Balochistan Assembly (65). Some 74, 38, 25 and 14 seats have been reserved for women and minorities in the provincial assemblies respectively.
Twenty-four seats have been added to the incumbent strength of the KP Assembly following the merger of the tribal region with KP province following a constitutional amendment in May this year.
However, elections on these 24 seats will be held next year.
Also, the new election rules have bound the contesting parties to field at least 5 percent women candidates on general seats with a view to further increasing the women representation in the parliament.