ISLAMABAD, January 20, 2015: Low attendance, lack of quorum and excessive use of points of order marked the 17th session of the National Assembly amid the passage of the Constitution (21st Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2015.
The legislators consumed two hours and 54 minutes (10%) to debate the bills while three out of 8 resolutions appearing on the Orders of the Day were adopted by the House. The 13-sitting session was held from January 1 to 16 and lasted 29 hours and 25 minutes.
The House took up a motion under Rule 259 regarding the deadly terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar and 39 legislators spoke on it for 8 hours and 24 minutes (29% of the total session time). The motions regarding Kashmir Affairs, employment, Law and Justice and Overseas Pakistanis were not taken up.
Low attendance persisted during the entire session as on average 79 members (23%) were present at the outset and 75 (22%) at the end of each sitting. The Leader of the House in the National Assembly attended 3 sittings for three hours and 12 minutes (11%) while the Leader of the Opposition was present in 9 sittings for 10 hours and 13 minutes (35%). The Speaker presided over the proceedings for 35% of the total session time, the Deputy Speaker for 55% and the Members of Panel of Chairpersons 6% while breaks consumed the remaining 4% time.
In terms of oversight over the executive, 277 starred questions (requiring oral replies) – on average 21 per sitting – were submitted during the session while 69 (25%) were responded. The members also asked 109 supplementary questions.
Six out of nine Calling Attention Notices (CANs) were taken up, of which, four were directed to the Cabinet Secretariat and one each to the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. The points of order consumed 4 hours and 35 minutes (16%) while 16 walkouts were witnessed that continued for 12 hours and 41 minutes.
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This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of FAFEN and in no way reflect the views of the European Union. This report is based on direct observation of the National Assembly proceedings conducted by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) – a member organization of FAFEN. Errors and omissions are excepted.
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