The National Assembly of Pakistan is the country's sovereign legislative body. It embodies the will of the people to let themselves be governed under the democratic, multi-party Federal Parliamentary System. The National Assembly makes laws for the Federation in respect of the powers enumerated in the Federal Legislative list. Through its debates, adjournment motion, question hour and Standing Committees, the National Assembly keeps as check over the Executive and ensures that the government functions within the parameters set out in the Constitution and does not violate the fundamental rights of citizens. Only the National Assembly, through its Public Accounts Committee, scrutinizes public spending and exercises control of expenditure incurred by the government.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a Federal State comprising four provinces of Balochistan, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Punjab and Sindh; Islamabad is the Federal Capital with Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). These federating units offer a lot of diversity and variety in terms of languages, levels of social and economic development, population density and climatic conditions.
The Members of the National Assembly are to be elected by direct and free vote in accordance with law.
Article 50 of the Constitution provides that the Parliament of Pakistan shall consist of President and the two Houses known as the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly has an edge over the Senate by legislating exclusively on money matters. With exception to money Bills, however, both the Houses work together to carryout the basic work of the Parliament, i.e. law making.
The Bill relating to the Federal Legislative List can be originated in either House. If the House passed the Bill through majority vote, it shall be transmitted to the other House. If the other House passes it witdout amendment, it shall be presented to the President for assent.
If the Bill, transmitted to the other House, is not passed within ninety days or rejected, it shall be considered in a joint sitting to be summoned by the President on the request of the House in which the Bill was originated. If the Bill is passed in the joint sitting, with or without amendments, by the votes of majority of the members of the two Houses, it shall be presented to the President for assent.
If the Bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall assent to the Bill in not later than ten days.If it is not a Money Bill, the President may return the Bill to the Majlis-e-Shoora with a message requesting that the Bill be reconsidered and that an amendment specified in the message be considered. The Majlis-e-Shoora shall reconsider the Bill in a joint sitting.If the Bill is passed again, with or without amendment, by vote of the majority of the members present and voting, it shall be presented to the President and the President shall give his assent within ten days; failing which such assent shall be deemed to have been given.
Under the Constitution, the Parliament may also legislate for two or more Provinces by consent and request made by those Provinces. If the Federal Government proclaims State of Emergency in any province, the power to legislate about that province is vested in the Parliament.But the Bills passed by the Parliament during the State of Emergency, shall cease to be in force after the expiration of six months from the date Emergency is lifted. Nevertheless, the steps already taken under these Acts shall remain valid.
In exercises of its constitutional role, the Parliament also has other very important duties to perform.The President, who is at the apex, is elected by members of both Houses of the Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies. The Prime Minister, who heads the Cabinet and is meant to aid and advise the President in his functions, belongs to the National Assembly. He enjoys the confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly. Members of the Cabinet are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
In the formation of the Cabinet the major portion (75%), goes to National Assembly while the rest (25%) are taken from the Senate.
There is a democratic procedure to remove the Prime Minister from his office if he loses confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly. In this respect a resolution for a vote of no-confidence is moved by not less then 20% of the total membership of the National Assembly. If the resolution is passed by majority of the total membership of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister immediately relinquished powers.
Similarly, for the removal or impeachment of the President, not less than one-half of the total membership of either House may give in writing its intention to do so, to the Speaker National Assembly, or, as the case may be, to the Chairman Senate, for moving a resolution for the purpose. In a joint sitting of the two Houses, convened for the purpose, and after the deliberations, if the resolution is passed by the votes of not less than two thirds of the total membership of the Parliament, the President shall cease to hold office immediately on the passing of the resolution.
In case emergency is proclaimed, the Parliament holds the authority to extend the term of the National Assembly. Under the Constitution, the Parliament may also, on the request of the Federal Government, by law, confer functions upon officers or authorities subordinate to the Federal Government.