FAFEN Parliament Monitor Senate of Pakistan 124th Session Report

The 124th Session of the Senate witnessed heated debate between the treasury and opposition lawmakers on issues of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and economic policy of the government. Spanning over three sittings from February 10 to February 12, it was the first session requisitioned by the Opposition during 13th parliamentary year.

All three sittings started on time and each sitting, on average, lasted three hours and 12 minutes. According to FAFEN’s observation, an average of 14 senators (13% of the total membership) were found present at the start and 41 (40%) at the adjournment of each sitting. The Prime Minister did not attend any sitting while the Leader of the House and the Opposition leader remained present for entire duration of the session.

The average maximum attendance of lawmakers gradually decreased with 82 lawmakers present in the first sitting, 76 in the second sitting and 63 in the last sitting.

The Chairman presided over the entire proceeding of the session and Deputy Chairman remained present in one sitting. The Senate adopted three separate resolutions to express grief on the demise of Intizar Hussain, former Deputy Chairman of Senate Malik Muhammad Ali Khan and playwright Fatima Surayya Bajia.

The Chair gave three rulings in the session; one to include the requisitioned agenda items on Orders of the Day in future, second  on an adjournment Motion moved by Senator Taj Haider  December 22, 2015 in 122nd session) and third  about non-convening the meeting of Council of Common Interest.

The Parliamentary Leaders of PML-N, PPPP, BNP-M, PML, PTI and JI attended all three sittings followed by two each by JUI-F, NP and MQM lawmakers and one each by and PkMAP and ANP lawmakers.  None of the sitting was attended by Parliamentary Lleaders of BNP-A and PML-F.

The House witnessed the presentation of seven reports of the standing committees on legislative proposals including the National University of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the Domestic Workers (Employment Rights) Bill, 2015; the Pakistan Halal Authority Bill, 2015; the Electoral Rolls (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the Delimitation of Constituencies (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Publication of Laws of Pakistan Bill, 2015.

Four reports of standing committees about various starred questions, two reports on the breach of privilege and one on a calling attention notice were presented. The annual report of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan for Financial Year 2014-15 was also laid. The House passed the Minimum Wages for Unskilled Workers (Amendment) Bill, 2015 while Private Power and Infrastructure Board (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 was also presented. Lawmakers spoke six points of public importance that consumed 15 minutes of the proceeding The House discussed a motion under Rule 218 sponsored by the Opposition Leader regarding crisis in PIA. Chairman Senate and 28 lawmakers – PPPP (7), PML-N (7), MQM (5), PTI, PKMAP and PML (2 each) and JUI-F, BNP-A, ANP (one each) – spoke on it for 218 minutes.

Jointly sponsored by 33 lawmakers of Opposition parties including PPPP,PML, BNP-A and PTI and also an Independent lawmaker, two various motions under Rule 218 were clubbed. The first motion was about non-transferring the benefits to masses after reduction in petroleum prices in International Markets while other was about burden on gas consumers.  One of the sponsor of these clubbed motions Islam Uddin Sheikh (PPPP) did not attend any sitting while thirty lawmakers – PPPP (8), PML-N (7), MQM (4), PTI (3),
JUI-F, JI, PML, PkMAP, NP, BNP-M, ANP  (one each) and an Independent lawmaker  – spoke on them for 227 minutes.

The opposition members, who had requisitioned the 124th session criticized the government for mishandling PIA issue, non-transferring the benefits to masses after reduction in petroleum prices in International Markets and imposing new tax of total Rs. 101 billion on gas consumers including Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC).  On the other hand, the treasury lawmakers defended the economic policy of the government.

The entire Opposition staged a walkout during the first sitting when the Leader of the House opposed the Opposition Leader who wanted to move a motion for suspension of rules and table resolution against the privatization of PIA.

To download the session report, click here