FAFEN Parliament Monitor National Assembly of Pakistan 48th Session Report

Islamabad, December 26, 2012: The 48th session of the National Assembly witnessed the passage of two treasury-backed bills as well as the Fair Trial Bill 2012 amid low members’ attendance, leaving 60% of the agenda appearing on the orders of the day unaddressed.

The house passed three government bills and introduced eight, sending them to the concerned standing committees. A government bill seeking long-awaited approval, the Investigation for Fair Trial Bill 2012, was also passed which allows for investigations by law-enforcement agencies and security agencies “by modern techniques and devices” in cases related to terrorism. Five private members bills – including the acid throwing and burn crime bill – were also introduced during the session.

Forty eight members (14% of total strength) were present at the beginning and 72 (21%) at the end of each sitting, on average, while an average maximum of 127 (37%) were present at any one point in all ten sittings. These figures are based on headcounts taken by FAFEN observer since the National Assembly does not make public, attendance record of the legislator’s.

The attendance of key members was also low as the Prime Minister attended two out of ten sittings, while the Leader of the Opposition attended four sittings in the entire session. The Speaker was absent throughout the session while the Deputy Speaker attended nine sittings presiding over 68% of the session; the rest of the session was chaired by members of panel of chairpersons.

The party head of PPPS attended five sittings, those of NPP and BNPA attended four sittings each, PML parliamentary leader attended two and MQM leader attended one sitting. Parliamentary leaders of the ANP, MMAP and PMLF did not attend the entire session.

The house did not take up 79 of the total 131 agenda items appearing on the orders of the day. Five private bills and a single government bill, 12 resolutions on regular agenda, 171 starred questions (requiring oral replies), 11 motions under rule 259, and two standing committee reports were left unaddressed.

The agenda was overshadowed by issues such as the law and order, energy crisis and issues regarding railways and PIAC. The house debated the motion under rule 87 about the shortage, low pressure, and non-supply of gas/CNG in the country for 14 minutes, and also took up a calling attention notice on the outages of gas. The 22 hours and 42 minutes session spread over ten sittings started from 10 – 21 December, 2012. On average each sitting consumed two hours and 16 minutes remaining 37 minutes behind the scheduled time.

Members participation was relatively better during the session as 142 MNAs (42% members) participated during the session. Fifty-three members submitted only agenda, 16 participated in the on-floor debates whereas 73 did both. A larger proportion of the women’s total strength (54% of total 78) in the house participated as compared to their male counterparts (38% of total 264). The minority members did not participate during the session.

Resolutions appearing on supplementary agenda were adopted on priority basis as the house did not take up 12 regular resolutions. Through these the house declared women’s education activist Malala yousufzai the “Daughter of Pakistan” and condemned the recent spate of killings of polio health workers in Karachi, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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