For the first time since the Parliament suspension, following the military coup by General Pervez Moucharraf, the Chief of Staff of Pakistan's army, on 12 october 1999, a complete re-election of the Senate was held on 24 February 2003.
I - COMPOSITION
104 senators elected:
- 22 by each of the country's four provincial assemblies,
- 8 by the members of the National Assembly at the level of the tribal zones,
- 4 chosen in the federal, Islamabad, capital by the members of the National Assembly.
-4 Minority Senators chosen from the provinces.
II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
Voting method :
- indirect voting : proportional representation and single transferable vote.
4 plurinominal constituencies corresponding to the country's four provinces, 1 plurinominal constituency corresponding to a tribal zone under federal administration, and 1 plurinominal constituency corresponding to the federal capital.
Term : 6 years, renewable by 3-year periods every 3 years.
Most recent election : 24 February 2003.
Eligibility : To be eligible, a person must be at least 30 years old, a Pakistani citizen, be a person of good morality, and have satisfied certain Islamic conditions.
Ineligibility : dishonourable act, false evidence, attack on the country's territorial integrity, non-rehabilitated bankruptcy, prison sentence of more than five years, or government contract.
Incompatibilities : members of the Armed Forces, public offices, lucrative duties in attendance on Pakistan.
III - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH
A - LEGISLATIVE POWER AND POWER TO MAKE A CONSTITUTION
1) The two chambers may both introduce legislation.
A bill to amend the Constitution may also be filed for a first reading in the Senate, as is the case with other ordinary bills.
After it has adopted a bill, the Senate sends it to the National Assembly.
Bills approved by the National Assembly are sent to the Senate for examination.
Bills must be approved in the two chambers based on a smile majority, with the exception of constitutional amendments, which require a two-thirds majority of the members of the two chambers.
If the chambers disagree about a bill, the latter is sent to the Parliament meeting as Congress : this provision does not apply to constitutional amendments.
The bill adopted by the two chambers is submitted to the President for approval. When the President has approved the bill, it becomes legally binding.
2) The Senate does not have any budget-related powers. The National Assembly has sole competence for budget matters.
B - SUPERVISORY POWER
Question sessions are organised, at which ministers must respond to questions from the senators.
IV - SPECIFIC PROVISIONS
The President of the Senate is the second highest-ranking government official.
He acts as temporary Head of State if this position if vacant.