FAFEN Parliament Monitor Senate of Pakistan 248th Session Report

Half of Calling Attention Notices, Resolutions and Motions under Rule 218 appearing on Orders of the Day were dropped during the 248th session of Senate due to absence of movers as most of them boycotted the session over non-appearance of Prime Minister in the House since April  2015.

The session, comprising nine sittings, started on May 9 and concluded on May 20, 2016.  With an average of 19% Senators present at the start and 17% at the end of each sitting, the session did not take up half of main parliamentary interventions. On average, a maximum of 70 (69%) members, along with two minority Senators attended the session.

Each sitting started four minutes behind the scheduled time and lasted two hours and 40 minutes on average. The Prime Minister did not attend any of the sittings. An effective system of governance is the one where elected Head of Government gets engaged in parliamentary interventions on a regular basis. Sub-rule (2A) of Rule 61 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate also states that the Chief Executive shall attend the Prime Minister’s Zero Hour (last hour of sitting) at least once a week when the Senate is in session.

The Opposition members boycotted the latter part of first six sittings over the absence of Prime Minister from the House. Although, they came to attend these sittings but later announced to boycott the proceedings. Overall, their boycott spanned for more than seven hours (422 minutes, 29% of the session time) while one walkout of 28 minutes was also witnessed on the same issue.

Another instance of Opposition’s 3-minute walkout was witnessed during 7th sitting over unsatisfactory reply to a question while one of the MQM lawmakers staged a token walkout for one minute against water shortage in Karachi and alleged highhandedness against MQM workers. In the last sitting, the entire Opposition and lawmakers from PkMAP, JUI-F and NP staged walk out for four minutes over ministerial absence during Question Hour.

The Chairman also left the house in last sitting when a motion was to be moved for constituting 12-member parliamentary committee for drafting Terms of Reference (TORs) investigating leaks from Panama papers. The Chairman was of the view that it was necessary to consult with him before moving it in the Upper House. Keeping in view the Al-Jihad Trust case, it is necessary to consult with the Senate Chairman before moving it in the Upper House if the NA takes up a motion regarding corruption before the Senate.

The Chairman attended nine sittings and presided over 98% of the session’s time while one percent of the time was presided over by the member of Panel of Chairpersons while the remaining one percent was consumed in break due to suspension of proceedings. The Deputy Chairman attended one sitting only.

The Leader of the House was present in all nine sittings and attended 98% of the session’s time, while the Opposition Leader also remained present in nine sittings and attended 43% of the session’s time.

The parliamentary leader of PkMAP attended all nine sittings followed by PML-N parliamentary leader (8), BNP-M, MQM, NP and ANP (7 sittings each), JUI-F, PPPP, JI (6 sittings each), PML (5 sittings each), BNP-A (4), PTI (3) and PML-F (2).

The House passed the Un-attended Orphans (Rehabilitation and Welfare) Bill, 2016 and deferred the Constitution (Twenty-second Amendment) Bill, 2016 on the request of the mover. One of the bills – the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2015 – was dropped due to the absence of mover while the House witnessed the introduction of five more bills, including the Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2016. Two Ordinances, including the Credit Bureaus (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016; the State Life Insurance Corporation (Re-organization and Conversion) Ordinance, 2016 were also presented.

The House adopted six resolutions regarding provision of Rs 8 billion for conversion of tube wells installed in Balochistan, supply natural gas to the residents of Galyat, hand over N-50 and N-25 Highways to National Highways and Motorway Police, prepare dossier about Indian interference in internal affairs of Pakistan, establish permanent Secretariat of CCI and protect rights of orphan and abandoned children.

Six other resolutions on agenda were dropped due to the movers’ absence while one was deferred on the request of mover.

Two Adjournment Motions (AMs) regarding mismanagement of affairs in Pakistan Cricket Board and problems of wheat growers were debated in the House. Out of 13 other AMs, three were deferred, four dropped, one termed inadmissible, two each not taken up and termed out of order while one was referred to the relevant committee.

The House took up five Calling Attention Notices (CANs) on the brutal killing of young girl in Abbottabad, non-declaration of results of Balochistan’s candidates against posts of Junior Engineer (BPS-17) in MEPCO, the failure of government to fill 600 vacancies in PIMS Hospital, loss of 5.1 million bales of cotton and shifting of PIA Central Reservation Control Centre from Karachi to Islamabad. Another nine CANs on the agenda were dropped while one was deferred.

The House witnessed presentation of 12 reports of the Senate Committees while extension in time period was granted for submission of three other reports under Rule 194 (1). The House also adopted two reports of Standing Committees and one of the Whole Committee.

The Senate debated four out of nine motions under Rule 218 for 99 minutes that dealt with the step to control smuggling, construct water reservoirs in Islamabad, financial position of OGDCL and inclusion of security related subjects in curriculum of educational institutions of the federal capital.

Four other motions about intra-regional trade, Indian involvement in terrorism, trade policy and reduction in production of natural gas were dropped while another motion regarding situation arising out of inflation was not taken up.

An MQM lawmaker’s privilege motion against Secretary Interior was taken up and referred to the relevant committee. The House adopted amendments in Rules 12, 42, 55, 65, 70, 94, 96,130,131,138,165, 210, 278 and also allowed insertion of new rule 31A and new Chapter XIIA (new rules 131A,131B and 131C) in the Rules of Procedure  and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012.

A total of 142 out of 191 (74%) Starred Questions were taken up on the floor of the House, while Senators raised another 242 Supplementary Questions. Of these, 29 were related to the Finance followed by Commerce (13), Foreign Affairs (12), Interior and Narcotics Control, as well as National Health Services (10 each).

The lawmakers raised 74 Points of Public Importance that consumed 229 minutes of the session’s time. The House discussed Annual Reports of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for the years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 following a motion under Rule 157(2).  Eleven lawmakers, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination and Chairman Senate spoke on it for 115 minutes.

The Chair gave three rulings during the session; the first one was about taking one AM of a member on a particular day, second was to serve notices to Secretaries of Federal Education and National Health Services over absence of ministries’ officials during Question Hour and the last one was about terming an AM out of order for being provincial subject. The Chairman also gave directions to Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs to brief the House about interceptor missile test by India.

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