ISLAMABAD, December 17, 2012: Starting 35 minutes late, the 6th sitting of the ongoing National Assembly session did not discuss the motion on law and order in the country. The sitting was also marked by low attendance as only 41 legislators were present at the start of the sitting while 77 were there at the end.
Despite low attendance, the house passed the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan Bill 2012 with simple majority. The 23rd Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill 2012 were deferred till the next sitting.
The Prime Minister, the Speaker and the parliamentary leaders of MQM, PML, PMLF, MMAP, ANP and NPP did not attend the sitting.
Following are some key observations of the parliamentary business:
Members’ Participation in House Proceedings
- The National Assembly met for two hours and six minutes.
- The sitting started at 1735 hours against the scheduled starting time of 1700 hours, witnessing a delay of 35 minutes.
- The Deputy Speaker chaired the sitting for 91 minutes while the remaining time was presided over by a member of the Panel of Chairpersons.
- The Prime Minister did not attend the sitting while the Leader of the Opposition was there for 37 minutes.
- Only the parliamentary leaders of BNPA and PPPS attended the sitting while those of PML, PMLF, MQM, MMAP, ANP and NPP were absent.
- The chief whips of PPPP, ANP, BNPA and PPPS were present whereas those of PMLN, MQM, MMAP, PML and PMLF did not attend the sitting.
- Forty-one members (12% of the total membership) were present at the outset while 77 (23%) were there at the adjournment. A maximum of 125 (37%) members were present at one point of the sitting.
- Seven minority members attended the sitting.
- Ten members applied for leave.
Representation and Responsiveness
- Two Calling Attention Notices (CANs) appearing on the Orders of the Day were taken up by the House. The CANs were about the delay in the establishment of Saraiki Department in Gomal University despite release of funds to HEC, and theft of gas worth Rs. 16.5 billion from Sui Northern and Sui Southern systems.
- Five of the 19 starred questions appearing on the orders of the day were taken up and responded to by the relevant ministries. Additionally, six supplementary questions were asked.
- A motion under rule 259 to further discuss the law and order situation was not taken up.
- A bill to provide for the establishment of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan – the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan Bill 2012 – was unanimously passed by the house.
- Four bills – The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2012, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, The 23rd Constitutional Amendment Bill 2012, and the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill 2012 – were introduced and referred to the respective standing committees.
Order and Institutionalization
- Thirteen points of order were raised which consumed 40 minutes of the sitting time. However, none of the points of order attracted the Chair’s formal ruling.
- There were no instances of protests, boycotts or walkouts.
- 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 of the sitting. However, it was not pointed out by any of the legislators.
The Daily Factsheet is based on direct observation of the National Assembly proceedings conducted by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI); a member organization of FAFEN
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