- Points of Order consume 43% of session time
- Pro-democracy Resolution adopted
ISLAMABAD, January 24: Unfinished agenda and Points of Order interrupting regular proceedings marked the National Assembly’s 38th session as it adopted a Resolution supporting democracy and passed a bill to set up a commission for women rights, says a Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) preliminary report on Tuesday.
The session lasted 10 hours and eight minutes for six sittings from December 15 to 22, on average meeting an hour and 51 minutes per sitting. Each sitting started with an average delay of 57 minutes
The House left 44% of the agenda items unaddressed that appeared on the Orders of the Day, primarily due to 110 Points of Order which consumed 43% of the total session time – 288 of 668 minutes. Like previous sessions, the agenda for Private Members’ Day was ambitiously set, making it difficult for the House to complete it in a single sitting.
A total of 36 Points of Order were raised by PMLN Members, 17 MQM, six PML, four MMAP, two ANP, one PPPS and seven by Independent Members. PPPP Members took the floor 37 times on Points of Order, mostly to respond to the opposition’s criticism. None of the Points of Order attracted the Chair’s formal ruling. Without the Chair’s formal ruling, these Points of Order do not lead to any output.
Overall 36% of Members – 87 male and 35 female — participated in the session by submitting agenda items on the Orders of the Day or by taking part in the debates. Male parliamentarians appeared to be less active than their female counterparts. Their participation remained 34% of their total membership – 258 – while female participation remained 46% of their total membership – 76.
A party-wise analysis shows that 96% of MQM parliamentarians took part in the proceedings, followed by MMAP’s 50%, PMLN’s 48%, PPPP’s 25% and 25% of the ANP.
While the participation of Members was low, the attendance was relatively better than the previous sessions. On average 133 Members were present at the beginning of each sitting and 152 at the end.
Since the National Assembly Secretariat does not make the attendance record public, FAFEN conducts a headcount of Members at the beginning and end of each sitting and documents the actual time spent on the floor of the House by Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
The Prime Minister attended five sittings for 47% (317 minutes) and the Leader of the Opposition was present during four sittings for 35% (236 minutes) of the session time. The Speaker chaired the proceedings for 77% of the session time; the Deputy Speaker 12%; and the remaining 11% of time was presided over by Members of Panel of Chairpersons. The Parliamentary Leaders of ANP, NPP and PPPS attended four sittings each, BNPA and MQM three each, PML two, and MMAP and PMLF leaders attended one sitting each.
Although the Quorum was visibly lacking at various stages of the session, it was not pointed out by any of the Legislators.
The National Assembly passed the National Commission for Women Bill, 2011 and the Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University Bill 2011. Twelve Private Members’ Bill were introduced and sent to respective Standing Committees. The House took up five Calling Attention Notices raised by nine male and nine female Members. Four were sponsored by PMLN and one was tabled by PPPP Members.
During the third sitting the National Assembly adopted a Resolution on the supremacy of democracy. A total of six Members – including the PM, the Leader of the Opposition, the parliamentary leaders of ANP and PPPS, and a Member of PMLN and MMAP – spoke on the Resolution for 80 minutes.
The House witnessed two walkouts. The PMLN and PPPS Members walked out in protest over not including their recommendations in the Resolution supporting democracy. A PMLN Legislator walked out of the House over the security arrangements made for the Prime Minister’s appearance in the Supreme Court, saying it caused difficulties for the general public.
About FAFEN: FAFEN is a network of 42 civil society organizations working to foster democratic accountabilities in Pakistan. It is governed by Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability.
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