According to Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution, the federation of Pakistan comprises four provincial units, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. Each provincial unit has its own elected legislative body called a provincial assembly that sits in the provincial capitals. A provincial cabinet is selected from among the members of the provincial assembly and is headed by the Chief Minister who is elected by the provincial assembly from among its members.

Legislative powers are shared between the federal and provincial governments which is generally more suitable for large countries like Pakistan because provincial governments can be more responsive to the needs of citizens than a centralized government. The federal legislative list provided in the fourth schedule of the Constitution bifurcates the legislative powers. All matters other than those mentioned in the federal list fall in the legislative powers of the provinces.

Seat allocation by provincial assemblies

The number of seats in each provincial assembly is based on the population of the respective province and explained in the Constitution. In addition to the general seats, there are reserved seats for women and non-Muslims. The table below shows detail of seats in each province for which candidates will be contesting the General Election, 2018*.

Description Balochistan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Punjab Sindh
General seats




















*The number of provincial seats for KP has been increased as a result of its merger with FATA after the 25th constitutional amendment was passed by Parliament in May 2018. This change will take effect after the General Election, 2018. The new number of seats for the KP assembly according to the 25th constitutional amendment is given below.


General seats




Khyber Pakhtunkhwa





Powers and functions of assemblies

According to the Constitution, the provincial assemblies are responsible for the following:

  • Electing the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Chief Minister.
  • Acting as the electoral college for the election of the President of Pakistan and senators of the respective province.
  • The provincial assembly is empowered to make laws for the province with respect to criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence and any matter not enumerated in the Federal Legislative List.
  • It cannot, however, make any law that is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah, which is repugnant to any provision of the Constitution, inconsistent with a federal law, violates or contravenes any fundamental rights or is not in consonance with the Principles of Policy.
  • Financial accountability like, legislating spending, including passing the annual and supplementary budgets of the provinces.
  • Overseeing the government.
  • According to the 18th amendment, provinces are now granted power and autonomy to establish local government systems and transfer political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to elected representatives. It also increased the administrative and financial autonomy of the provinces.

Term of the provincial assemblies

The term of the provincial assemblies is five years from the date of their first meetings. General Elections for all assemblies are held on same day, hence all four provincial assemblies initiate their five-year terms around the same time. This helps the governments decide for one day of dissolution of the assemblies after five years and makes elections possible on a single day for all the assemblies.

Electoral system

The electoral system for provincial assemblies’ general seats is based on single-member constituencies in which members are elected by a direct vote through a simple majority system. Seats reserved for women and non-Muslims are filled through a proportional representation party list system. As with elections to the National Assembly, reserved seats are distributed to political parties based on the total number of general seats won.

Leadership of the house

After a General Election, a provincial assembly, in its first meeting, elects a Speaker and Deputy Speaker from amongst its members. The Speaker, and in their absence, the Deputy Speaker presides over the session. The government and the opposition also have leaders in the provincial assembly and the Leader of the House is the Chief Minister, and the opposition parties elect the leader of the Opposition.