FAFEN Parliament Monitor Provincial Assembly of Balochistan 5th Parliamentary Year 2012-2013

Amid political instability, constitutional crisis, and sectarian killings leading to imposition of the Governor’s Rule, the Balochistan Assembly met for only 23 sittings in the fifth parliamentary year. This led to the provincial legislature ignoring its core responsibilities of legislation and oversight, as it also faced a leadership crisis.

Apart from passing nine bills, the provincial legislature adopted 11 resolutions and only one legislator asked 21 questions during the fifth year. Of the nine bills passed, six were new pieces of legislation along with three seeking amendments in the existing laws.

Only three months before the house completed its constitutional term, the Speaker was ousted through a no trust motion after he refused to call the assembly’s session in the light of the Supreme Court verdict on the performance of the provincial government.

The province was thrown into constitutional crisis in October 2012 after the Supreme Court issued an interim order in the Balochistan law and order case, saying the provincial government had lost its constitutional authority to govern the province as it failed to curb human rights violations, target killings and kidnapping for ransom cases.

After the interim order, the Speaker, who was acting Governor at the time, questioned the status of the Balochistan government and refused to call the session requested by the Chief Minister in November 2012.

On December 19, 2012 a no-confidence motion was submitted against the Speaker as the 36 session was the requisitioned. In a no-trust vote on December 26, 2012, the Speaker was ousted. In the following 37 session the incumbent Deputy Speaker was elected as the new Speaker, and for the first time in the Balochistan Assembly’s history, a woman lawmaker was elected as Deputy Speaker.

As doctors went on a two-month strike in Quetta over the kidnapping of a senior colleague, the Balochistan Assembly passed the Balochistan Essential Health Service (Code of Conduct) Bill 2012 declaring health services as mandatory, barring doctors from going on strike and putting conditions on their private practice.

The house passed the Balochistan Environmental Protection Bill 2012 and the Human Organs Transplantation (Amendment) Bill 2012 to adopt the federal laws on environment and transplant of human organs under the 18th amendment. Two more bills were passed to set up universities in the province.

In seven regular sessions, the Balochistan Assembly held only 23 sittings in the fifth parliamentary year. Overall these sessions lasted 32 hours and 24 minutes with each sitting meeting for an average of an hour and 32 minutes. After the imposition of the Governor’s Rule, the Balochistan Assembly held two sessions which lasted for one and three sittings respectively.

An in-camera session in early December 2012, which was to be briefed by the federal Minister for Interior on the security situation in the province, was called off only after three minutes as the federal minister could not make it to Quetta. Moreover during the five years, the provincial assembly functioned without any formal opposition.

An Independent lawmaker was appointed as Leader of the Opposition in December 2012. Though the appointment was mainly to fulfill the requirement of having a Leader of the Opposition for the consultation on the caretaker setup mandatory under the 20 amendment, the confusion about the provincial government’s status even after the two-month constitutional term of the Governor Rule ended on March 14, 2013, rendered the process of consultation meaningless. Though by the end of the fifth parliamentary year the two-month Governor’s Rule expired as the parliament’s joint session was not called to approve the ouster of the provincial government, it was dissolved amid constitutional confusion.

The provincial government stood restored but again amid confusion over who commands majority in the house, the Chief Minister gave advice for dissolving the assembly on March 19, 2013. As the provincial assembly also functioned without forming Standing Committees, it suspended the rule 84 (reference of bills to Standing Committees) whenever a bill was introduced in the house.

The Governor’s Rule was imposed in the province on 14 January 2013, four days after a twin bombing attack in Quetta killed more than 100 members of the Hazara community. The 11 resolutions adopted by the provincial assembly reflected the political instability, constitutional crisis
and the sectarian violence Balochistan faced in the fifth parliamentary year.

Two of the resolutions were on removing the Speaker from his post. Similarly amid political crisis in the province, the house reposed confidence in the leadership of the Chief Minister and condemned the imposition of the Governor Rule. In the last session of the year the house adopted another resolution to condemn the killing of around more than 90 Hazaras in another suicide attack on Kirani Road in Quetta on
February 16, 2013.

Two resolutions sought the help of the federal government to overcome the law and order problem in the province and the water shortage. Another resolution condemned the airing of an anti-Islam video. Similarly the lawmakers demanded facilities for the tribal areas of Balochistan, especially the registration of tax-exempted vehicles.

Since the Balochistan Assembly Secretariat does not make public the attendance record of MPAs, FAFEN observers conduct a headcount at the start and end of each sitting and documents the actual time spent by the Chief Minister, Speaker and Deputy Speaker. The Chief Minister attended 10 sittings. The two Speakers in the fifth parliamentary year chaired 11 sittings, while the remaining 10 were presided over by their deputies.

During the fifth parliamentary year, on average 21 members were present at the beginning and 23 at the adjournment of each sitting. Twelve MPAs of the 65-member Balochistan Assembly did not take part in any assembly business throughout the fifth parliamentary year. A total of 27 members raised 95 points of order which consumed 375 minutes of the total time otherwise allocated to formal agenda. The members generally raised more than one issue through a single point of order.

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