FAFEN Parliament Monitor National Assembly of Pakistan 26th Session Report

The National Assembly’s 26th Session, spanning over six sittings, showed marked improvement in smooth running of the House. The start of proceeding of the House was not delayed as much as it used to be during previous sessions. The private members’ business pending for more than two months was also taken up except where the movers were absent. None of sitting time was consumed in suspensions or breaks. However, the treasury’s disinterest in ensuring attendance of their members cost the government a few bills which could not be taken up during last two sittings due to lack of quorum. The last sitting ended early as the opposition left the House and the treasury had no strength to complete the quorum. Veteran parliamentarian Makhdoom Amin Faheem passed away during the course of this session and a sitting was reserved to pay tribute to him.

The Speaker presided over the House for a quarter of total meeting time while the Deputy Speaker chaired the proceeding for most of the remaining time except an hour and 13 minutes when a member of the Panel of Chairpersons presided over the House. Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif attended only one sitting during the session. Unlike the past, the Premier has been showing up at least once in each session since last few sessions. His presence has a positive impact on over-all attendance of the House. The highest attendance during 26th Session was also observed on the day when Prime Minister Sharif attended the sitting. The average attendance of the lawmakers during each sitting of this session decreased to 159 members from 235 in 25th session and 199 in 24th session. It is fourth session since the National Assembly has been sharing the attendance of lawmakers on its website.

However, despite lower attendance, the participation of lawmakers registered a little surge during 26th session with 36% of total membership taking part in the proceedings as compared to 31% during 25th session. Still, the majority of the lawmakers (63%) did not participate in the proceeding during the entire 26th session. The members can participate by submitting an agenda item and taking part in the debate. The names of as many as 94 lawmakers appeared on Orders of the Day against an agenda item and 44 of those members also spoke on floor of the House as well whereas there were 29 parliamentarians who only spoke on floor of the House but did not submit an agenda item. These participating MNAs constitute only 37% (126) of total membership of the House.

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