ISLAMABAD, 9 February, 2013: Senate’s 90th session was marked by the passage of the Fair Trial Bill amidst walkouts by both treasury and the opposition parties and low Senators’ attendance as 45% of the agenda was left unaddressed.
Apart from the Fair Trial Bill, which gives investigation agencies new powers for collecting evidence, including material or records in written, photographic or other forms, the Senate passed six other bills related to maritime law, currency, trade and other issues.
The House witnessed 25 walkouts amounting to 60% of the total session’s time. Most of them were on imposing the Governor Rule in Balochistan, while lawmakers also walked out over target killings, Khyber Agency killings, remarks about minorities, embezzlement in a vaccine project and other issues. JUIF, BNPA and PMLN Senators staged a maximum number of walkouts either independently or jointly. JUI, Independents, MQM and PPPP Senators also staged walkouts during the session.
Low senators’ attendance was witnessed. On average seven members were present at the outset, 16 at the adjournment and 37 at the time of maximum attendance.
None of the parliamentary leaders attended all 11 sittings, with the JUIF and the MQM leaders attending a maximum of nine. However, both the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition attended 10 sittings, and the Chairman was present in seven, presiding over 54% of the session. The remainder of the session was presided over by the Deputy Chairman.
Out of the 60 agenda items on the orders of the day, 45% remained unaddressed. The House took up 21 agenda items, eight Standing Committee reports, three Resolutions, and a Calling Attention Notice. In addition, the upper house also took up a supplementary Resolution and a Bill.
The session from 21 January to 8 February 2013 lasted 22 hours and 38 minutes. On average each sitting consumed around two hours. All eleven sittings, on average, were delayed by 52 minutes.
Four Resolutions were adopted. One of them was to offer condolences on the demise of former Senator Qazi Hussain Ahmed. The three other Resolutions were about audit of power distribution companies, establishing an institution for boarding and lodging of children of unknown parentage and recommending late Bashir Ahmad Bilour for Nobel Peace Prize.
Out of the 132 starred questions, the ministers responded to 82.
In addition, a calling attention notice regarding an outbreak of measles in Sindh was also taken up. Another notice about airing of foreign TV programmes including those dubbed in Urdu on Pakistani TV channels was not taken up.
Senators raised 124 points of order regarding national and regional issues, consuming 510 minutes or 38% of the session time. A privilege motion raised by an Independent Senator was referred to the Standing Committee.
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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