ISLAMABAD, April 7, 2010: The National Assembly met on Wednesday with single-point agenda of debate on proposed Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Bill, 2010. The House underwent an extensive debate on the issue lasting almost six hours with 18 MNAs speaking on the proposed amendments, reports the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its Daily Factsheet on Second Sitting of 21st Session of the National Assembly Proceedings.
The following are some key observations of the Parliamentary Business:
Members’ participation in House proceedings
- The National Assembly met for 06 hours and 54 minutes.
- The second sitting started at 1022 Hours against the scheduled starting time of 1000 hours. The House proceedings started late by 22 minutes.
- The House took a break of an hour on the account of Prayer and Lunch.
- The Speaker of the House chaired the sitting for 62 minutes, the Deputy Speaker for 206 minutes while remaining 80-minute sitting was chaired by Abdul Qadir Patel, a member of Panel of Chairperson.
- The Prime Minister attended the sitting briefly for just 29 minutes, while The Leader of the Opposition did not attend the sitting.
- Parliamentary leaders of PML, MMAP, NPP, PPPS and BNPA remained absent from the sitting while the leaders of MQM, ANP and PMLF were present.
- The Chief Whips of PPPP, PMLN, PML, MQM, ANP, MMAP, ANP, and PMLF were present, while chief whips of NPP, PPPS and BNPA were absent.
- Five members appealed for leave to be absent from the sitting.
- A total of 50 members were present at the outset of the sitting, while 93 members at the end of the sitting.
Representation and Responsiveness
- There was no other business on the Orders of the Day for second sitting.
- [The Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Bill, 2010] was further discussed for 303 minutes. As many as 18 members participated in the discussion. Out of those 18 Members, every MNA, on an average, spoke for 18 minutes on the Bill.
Order and institutionalization
- 4 Points of Order were raised, taking up 6 minutes of the House proceedings. However, they didn’t require Speaker’s ruling.
- There was no Adjournment Motion on the Orders of the Day.
- Two PML legislators staged token walkouts on two separate occasions. The instances of protest took a total of four minutes of House proceedings. PML MNA Kishan Chand Parwani staged a walkout on ‘non-representation of any minority member in Constitutional Reforms Committee’. Another PML Member Shahjehan Yousaf registered his protest against ‘the proposal of renaming NWFP as Khyber Pakhtoonkhwah’.
- Orders of the Day was 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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