President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday summoned the joint session of parliament in Islamabad on Wednesday (today), during which the government was expected to get the approval of the legislation relating to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The ruling party has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly but the opposition dominated the Senate. However, in the joint sitting the opposition also maintains a numerical superiority but with a low margin.
The current strength of the National Assembly is 340 and that of the Senate is 103. The government has 20 more members than the opposition in the lower house, but the latter leads in upper house, having 25 more senators than the treasury benches.
This gives the opposition five more members than the government side when both the houses were combined. the slim majority comes despite the fact that the four seats belonging to the opposition lawmakers are currently vacant.
Opposition members Munir Orakzai and Iftikharul Hassan Shah have passed away recently, opposition senators Ishaq Dar and Chaudhry Tanveer have gone into self-imposed exile. Also the vacant seat of Senator Hasil Bizenjo was won by the government ally, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) in by-polls.
However, Senator Sitara Ayaz, who belongs to the opposition Awami National Party (ANP) has supported the government in the past. Parliamentary affairs experts suggest that in numbers the opposition have more strength in the joint sitting but it would not be difficult for the government turn a few opposition lawmakers in its favour.