ISLAMABAD, September 30, 2010: The National Assembly met for two hour and 35 minutes in the ninth sitting of the 25th session. The sitting witnessed a low attendance of members, with only 9% of the members present at the beginning of the sitting and 29% when the sitting was adjourned. The maximum attendance was recorded at 124 members (36%) when the Prime Minister was present.
The Prime Minister attended the sitting briefly for 20 minutes, while the Leader of Opposition remained absent. Only the Parliamentary Leader of MQM was present, while the leaders of other Parliamentary Parties did not attend the sitting.
The issue of the lack of Quorum persisted during the ninth sitting as well and no legislator pointed it out. The House took up and passed one bill and continued debate on the Adjournment Motion pertaining to Dr. Afia’s case.
The sitting witnessed a walkout for 10 minutes, by members of PML, over the issue of non facilitation to the flood affectees. The following are some key observations of the Parliamentary Business:
Members’ participation in House proceedings
- The National Assembly met for two hours and 35 minutes.
- The ninth sitting started at 1035 Hours against the scheduled starting time of 1000 hours. The House proceedings started late by 35 minutes.
- The entire sitting was presided over by the Deputy Speaker, while the Speaker remained absent.
- The Prime Minister was present for 20 minutes, while the Leader of Opposition did not attend the sitting.
- Only the Parliamentary Leader MQM was present, while the leaders of PML, MMAP, PPPS, ANP, PMLF, NPP and BNPA were absent.
- The Chief Whips of PPPP, PMLN, PML, MQM and MMAP were present, while the chief whips of ANP, PMLF, NPP and BNPA were absent.
- A total of 31 (9%) members were present at the outset of the sitting, while 98 (29%) members at the end of the sitting.
- Fourteen members applied for leave to be absent from the sitting.
- As many as four out of 10 minority members were present during the 9thsitting.
Representation and Responsiveness
- There were 2 Calling Attention Notices (CANs) on the Orders of the Day, regarding “increase in the prices of LPG” and “Government’s failure to control load-shedding, system losses and high tariff in the country”. The CANs were directed to the Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministry of Water and Power.
- A total of 21 questions were listed to be taken up during the Questions Hour. However, only seven were raised and responded to by the relevant minister
- A total of 15 Supplementary Questions were raised in the House during the ninth sitting
- There were two bills on the Orders of the Day. The House took up one bill [The Degree Awarding Status to Dawood College of Engineering and Technology, Karachi Bill, 2010], while the other bill [The Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Bill, 2010] was not taken up by the House.
- Two reports [The Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2010] and [The Federal Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2009] from the Standing Committees were presented in the National Assembly.
Order and institutionalization
- 11 Points of Order were raised, consuming 16 minutes of the sitting. However, none of the Points of Orders raised by Members attracted Speaker’s ruling.
- The House debated on the admitted Adjournment Motion regarding “non-release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui from prison in the USA”. A female parliamentarian of MQM spoke on the issue for nine minutes.
- An adjournment motion was moved by members of PMLN on the “kidnapping and torturing of Mr. Omer Cheema by the security agencies”. The debate on the issue will likely to start from next week.
- There was one Motion Under Rule 259 on the Orders of the Day, regarding “Human Rights violations in the Occupied Kashmir” which was not taken up by the House.
- There was one instance of a walkout by members of PML on the issue of “non-facilitation to the flood affectees”. The walkout lasted 10 minutes
- Orders of the Day were available to legislators, observers and others.
- Information on Members’ attendance was unavailable to observers and the public.
- The Quorum was visibly lacking at various stages during the sitting. However, lack of quorum was not pointed out by any of the members of the National Assembly.
The Daily Factsheet is based on direct observation of the Senate proceedings conducted by Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), a member organization of FAFEN
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