ISLAMABAD, September 6, 2010: As many as 36 MNAs participated in the debate on the devastation caused by the recent floods, during the 24th session of the National Assembly prorogued Saturday, says Free and Fair Election Network in its Session Report on the 24th Session of the National Assembly.
The dedicated session to discuss the flood disaster was observed to drift away at times from the actual debate. Around 55% of the session time was consumed on debate on flood situation, while other issues, protests and breaks consumed the remaining time. For instance, the House took 262 minutes or 30% of the total session time to debate a statement of MQM leader Altaf Hussain during second sitting of this three-sitting session.
The session of the Lower House that lasted three sittings remained in session for 13 hours and 53 minutes. The session was called to discuss emergency situation in the country. The House debated the flood situation for 7 hours and 41 minutes, with only 36 MNAs taking the floor to express their concerns.
A total of 30 male and 6 female Members took part in the discussions. These included 12 Members from PPPP, 9 from PMLN, 10 from PML, 4 from MQM and one Member from ANP. The Prime Minister during the 3rd sitting spoke on the Motion under Rule 259 regarding the devastation caused by recent floods for almost an hour (57 minutes), whereas the Leader of the Opposition in the same sitting addressed the House for 35 minutes.
The National Assembly during the course of the first sitting offered condolences for the victims of floods, recent suicide attack in Lahore and the firing incident in Karachi. The House also offered “Fateha” for the departed soul of the Federal Minister for Local Government and Rural Development. The debate on the crucial issue of floods was deferred only to offer empathy to the late Minister – Abdul Razak Thahim.
The National Assembly took up two resolutions during the 2nd sitting. The resolutions regarding “the abolition of feudalism from Pakistan” and “the strengthening of democracy” came forth after thorough debates, deliberations and heated exchange of accusations between MQM and PMLN Members. The resolutions were not on the agenda but were adopted by the House.
The session witnessed a total of three protests by Members belonging to various parties. These demonstrations consumed 38 minutes (5% of the total time). During the course of the first sitting Members of PML, MQM staged a procession against the suicide attacks in Lahore and firing incident in Karachi. They were joined by the PPPS leader and an independent Member. In the 2nd sitting Members of PML stressed on the point that “this session was called to discuss the destruction and damages caused by the catastrophic floods and its aftereffects”. The third protest was a part of the third sitting, where a PPPP Member staged a walkout against the “bombings in Quetta”.
The Speaker of the House was present during 2 of 3 sittings. The Deputy Speaker remained absent during 1 out of 3 sittings. The Prime Minister was present in two sittings, whereas the Leader of the Opposition attended all three.
The Parliamentary Leaders of PML, MQM, MMAP and PPPS attended two out of three sittings each during the 24th session, while the Parliamentary Leaders of ANP, PMLF, BNPA and NPP did not attend the entire session. Chief Whips of PPPP, PMLN, PML, MQM, and MMAP attended the entire 24th session. Chief Whip of ANP attended 1 out of 3 sittings, while PPPS Chief Whip attended two sittings. PMLF, NPP and BNPA Chief Whips were not present during any sitting of this important session.
A total of 30 Points of Order were raised during the 24th session which consumed 4 hours and 43 minutes of the sitting proceedings. As many as 21 Members applied for leave to be absent from the session’s proceedings.
The session witnessed relatively greater percentage of Members’ presence than other sessions of the National Assembly. On average 109 Members were present at the onset of each sitting, while 88 Members at the end. The lowest attendance of Members was observed to be in the last sitting with only 41 Members present at the start of the sitting and 21 Members present at the end of the sitting.
About FAFEN: FAFEN is a network of 30 civil society organizations working to foster democratic accountabilities in Pakistan. It is governed by Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability.
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