Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Framework: Performance of the 13th National Assembly (2008-2013)

The 13th National Assembly brought yet another transition to democracy in Pakistan. Pakistan faced uncertainty and lingering political instability from 2008 to 2013. The defining feature of this period in Pakistan’s history was the executive-judiciary tussle. President Zardari, who took over as a civilian President from General Musharraf in 2008, did not initially restore the sacked higher judiciary. It was eventually done due to the intense mobilization of the lawyers and opposition political parties. However, seeds of the executive-judiciary tussle mushroomed into political instability. It forms the backdrop to the way the 13th National Assembly functioned and completed its tenure.

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FAFEN: Women MPs Performance in the National Assembly Report

As the first parliamentary year of the incumbent 14th National Assembly is nearing to an end, women legislators performed impressively, asserting themselves in their lawmaking role, according to a Free and Fair Election Network on the International Women’s Day. They played an active role in the lawmaking process by submitting 12 private member bills (six singly and six jointly with their colleagues). These bills mainly focused of issues pertaining to governance, human rights, democracy and political development. Similarly, women parliamentarians, singly, submitted 20 resolutions, 14 calling attention notices, 1,383 questions, 22 motions under rule 259 and raised 64 points of order during the reporting period.

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FAFEN Parliament Monitor: National Assembly of Pakistan, 8th Session, January 27- February 7. 2014

The National Assembly’s eighth session was marked by the contentious passage of two government- backed anti-terrorism bills and the extension of terms of anti-terrorism ordinances amidst protests by the opposition benches. The long-awaited arrival of the Prime Minister and low interest of lawmakers in terms of attendance and participation was also witnessed, says Free and Fair Election Network in its report based on direct observation.

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FAFEN Parliament Monitor: National Assembly of Pakistan 7th Session, December 05-20. 2013

Increasing direct representation of religious minorities was proposed in a bill seeking constitutional amendments in the seventh session of the National Assembly, otherwise marked by protests and boycotts against the Interior Minister’s ‘un-parliamentary’ remarks when the opposition aired reservations regarding voting procedures in the 2013 general elections as well as planned moves by the government to privatize institutions like the Pakistan International Airlines, NADRA etc., says Free and Fair Election Network in its session report based on the direct observation of the Lower House. The session saw the introduction of a private member bill which sought amendments in articles 51 and 106 of the constitution to increase the number of seats for religious minorities in the federal and provincial legislatures, and for direct elections to these seats. At present, members of religious minorities are elected to the House indirectly, through a party list system.

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FAFEN Parliament Monitor: National Assembly of Pakistan 6th Session, November 04-12. 2013

Low interest of the members in participation and addressing agenda items was observed in the sixth session of the National Assembly, says Free and Fair Election Network in its session report based on the direct observation of the proceedings of the Lower House. The sixth session of the National Assembly continued the trend of fifth session of leaving more than half of the agenda unaddressed, low attendance of members, absence of Prime Minister and no passage of legislation.

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FAFEN Parliament Monitor – 100 Days of 14th National Assembly of Pakistan

The 14th National Assembly took oath on June 1, 2013 after a landmark smooth and democratically managed transfer of power. Despite allegations of rigging and irregularities in the May 11 elections, the transition of power remained august as the newly-elected members took oath indicating at the increasing maturity that political organization had achieved, strengthening democracy. The oath-taking of members was followed by the election of the Speaker in a triangular contest that clearly established the majority of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) in the National Assembly.

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FAFEN Parliament Monitor – National Assembly of Pakistan, 5th Session, September 16-27. 2013

The National Assembly’s fifth session responded to the unfortunate and tragic incidents of terrorism, molestation of minors, and natural catastrophe in September 2013 by debating them and adopting resolutions. The House adopted supplementary resolutions jointly brought in by members of various parties to condemn the suicide attack on the church in Peshawar, incidents of rape of minor girls, killings of army men in Upper Dir, and expressed sympathies along with calls for rehabilitation of the earthquake survivors in Balochistan. Four government and five private members bills were introduced during the session as the House left more than 60% of the private members’ agenda unaddressed.

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FAFEN Parliament Monitor: National Assembly of Pakistan, 4th Session, August 13-30. 2013

The National Assembly’s fourth session was marked by the introduction of two treasury-backed bills and the formation of 34 Standing Committees while the House left 79% of the agenda on the orders of the day unaddressed. Low attendance and participation of lawmakers was observed during the session. The government introduced the Constitution (23rd Amendment) Bill seeking 20-year extension for provincial quota in the federal government services. This is the third extension by amending the article 27 of the constitution to provide “safeguards against discrimination in services”. Additionally, apart from the Service Tribunals (Amendment) Bill 2013, the Civil Servants (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 and the Electoral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 were introduced during the session.

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FAFEN Parliament Monitor: National Assembly of Pakistan, Second (Budget) Session June 12-28, 2013

Only 41% of legislators took part in the first budget session of the 14th National Assembly as the government’s decision to implement the increase in the General Sales Tax (GST) before the passage of the budget was criticized by the opposition. On the other hand the Supreme Court also ruled the government had no legal authority to levy and charge 17 per cent GST without the parliamentary approval. The session, that spread over 13 sittings from June 12 to June 28, 2013, lasted 85 hours. On average, each sitting started 20 minutes late and met for six hours and 32 minutes.

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FAFEN Parliament Monitor: National Assembly of Pakistan 50th Session (February 17 — March 14, 2013)

The 13th National Assembly, completing its historic five years tenure, achieved a legislative agenda which altered the country’s governance structure by ensuring provincial autonomy and restoring the 1973 constitution, and promoted women’s empowerment. However, the last session of the assembly was marked by low interest of members as low attendance persisted throughout the session, and the lower house left 70% of the agenda appearing on the Orders of the Day unaddressed. The 50th session witnessed the passage of bills on counter-terrorism, general elections, education and health. Maintaining the tradition of political consensus over legislation and other national interest issues, the house unanimously passed 15 bills, including two amendments to the Anti-terrorism Act to expand the powers of law enforcement agencies to tackle financing for acts of terrorism and empowering them to detain suspects for a period of thirty days. In addition, a bill was passed to set up the National Counter Terrorism Authority.

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