ISLAMABAD, April 1st, 2014: The Balochistan Assembly passed the Balochistan Wild Life Protection, Preservation and Management Bill, 2014 and adopted 17 resolutions (several on increasing employment and provincial development) during its eighth session. The Chief Minister was present throughout the session and at least 40% members attended all sittings.
In addition to the above mentioned bill, an amendment bill about the Balochistan Public Service Commission was also presented but was deferred.
On a positive note, the House adopted a National Party (NP) sponsored resolution to make it mandatory for government doctors to serve in their respective districts for a period of three years. Doctors and other government employees such as teachers failing to take up their postings to remote areas has remained and continues to be a nationwide governance problem, especially in the education and health sectors, only exacerbating the problem of under-development.
Other resolutions adopted by the House were also related to development in Balochistan. They were tabled by the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam Fazal (JUI-F), the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), National Party (NP), and the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP). Some of these resolutions were on supply of gas and electricity to the province, employment quotas for Balochs (in Levies, industrial hubs such as Hub city, and in Cadet College Killa Saifullah), as well as on education, women’s empowerment through formation of a women’s caucus in the Balochistan Assembly. Other resolutions were on relief and development in tehsil Dukki after recent torrential rains, condemnation of the terrorist attacks in Saryab Road in Quetta and targeting of senior journalist Raza Rumi in Lahore, upgrade of Quetta Airport, and removal of check-posts in Chaman and Taftan to facilitate mobility of trade goods.
The House did not take up other five resolutions. A group of NP movers also retracted a resolution about corruption in funds allocated for construction of roads in Balochistan when the Chief Minister offered his assurances.
Nineteen legislators (18 men and one woman) from different parties devoted 11% of the session time to debate an adjournment motion regarding load-shedding of electricity which was adopted as a resolution. In addition, the House debated an adjournment motion on the target killing of a Kurd tribal leader Haji Abdul Rahim. While, another motion regarding the blast on Saryab Road and mass graves in Khuzdar was dismissed as being against the rules since the mover raised more than one issues on an adjournment motion.
Male law-makers from the Awami National Party (ANP), Balochistan National Party (BNP), JUI-F, and PML-N conducted executive oversight by asking 65 Starred Questions from various ministries, including Public Health Engineering (seven), Health (six), Planning and Development (six), Finance, Interior, and Irrigation (four each), among others. Twenty two of these were taken up on the floor of the House and six supplementary questions were also asked by law-makers for further explanation of answers given by the ministers/ministries. In addition, a calling attention notice on the Primary Education Promoting Program was also taken up by the House.
A female MPA from the PkMAP also moved a question of privilege about misbehavior of the principal of Cadet College Killa Saifullah after she sent the Chairman Board of Directors Cadet Colleges a letter about reported irregularities in the institution, which was sent to the committee.
Lawmakers raised 37 points of order consuming 11% of the session time, while law-makers of ANP and JUI-F walked out for five minutes over non-release of funds to them under the Public Sector Development Program.
Spread over seven sittings, the session lasted 20 hours and 12 minutes, and 50% of the total duration was presided over by the Speaker, while 34% by the Deputy Speaker. The parliamentary leaders of BNP and BNP-A remained absent from the entire session, those of the ANP and Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) attended five sittings each, while the leader of the PkMAP was present throughout the session. Of the three minority members, two were present in all sittings but the last, while on average, 39 members were present at the beginning as well as at a time of maximum attendance, and 28 at the end of every sitting. Quorum (presence of at least one-fourth of total membership of 65) was pointed out once during the 4th sitting, but was completed after bells were rung for five minutes. Sixty-two minutes were consumed in breaks.
The preliminary report is based on direct observation of the Balochistan Assembly proceedings conducted by CPD, a member organization of TDEA-FAFEN.
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