ISLAMABAD, September 4, 2010: The third sitting was marked by low attendance of the legislators, with 41 members present at the outset and only 21 present at the end. The long stretched sitting debated on the Motion regarding devastation of life and property caused by recent floods, reports the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its Daily Factsheet on the National Assembly Proceedings.
The Prime Minister spoke on the issue for almost an hour, while the Leader of Opposition expressed his concerns for 35 minutes. The following are some key observations of the Parliamentary Business:
Members’ participation in House proceedings
- The National Assembly met for 6 hours and 15 minutes.
- The third sitting started at 1026 Hours against the scheduled starting time of 1000 hours. The House proceedings started late by 26 minutes.
- The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were not present. The sitting was chaired by two Members of Panel of Chairpersons. Mr Pervaiz Khan Advocate chaired the sitting for 77 minutes, while the remaining time was presided over by Mr. Nadeem Afzal Gondal.
- The Prime Minister attended the sitting for 154 minutes, while the Leader of the Opposition was present for 220 minutes.
- None of the Parliamentary Leaders attended the 3rd sitting.
- The Chief Whips of PPPP, PMLN, PML, MQM and MMAP were present, while the chief whips of ANP, PMLF, PPPS, NPP and BNPA were absent.
- A total of 41 (12%) members were present at the outset of the sitting, while 21 (6%) members at the end of the sitting.
- 12 members appealed for leave to be absent from the sitting
- Nine out of 10 minority members were present during the third sitting.
Representation and Responsiveness
- The House further debated on the Motion under Rule 259 regarding devastation of life and property caused by recent floods. There was no other agenda on the Orders of the Day.
- A total of 31 members spoke on the Motion. These included 10 members of PPPP, 8 members each of PML and PMLN, 4 members of MQM and one member of ANP who took part in the discussions.
- There were no Bills on the Orders of the Day.
Order and institutionalization
- Three Points of Order was raised, taking up 12 minutes of the House proceedings. However, none of them attracted Speaker’s ruling.
- There was an instance of a walkout by a PPPP member, who protested on the “suicide bombings in Quetta”. The Minister for Labour and Manpower persuaded the protesting member to end the procession. The protest lasted 28 minutes.
- Orders of the Day were available to legislators, observers and others.
- Information on Members’ attendance was unavailable to observers and the public.
- The Quorum was visibly lacking at various stages during the sitting. However, lack of quorum was not pointed out by any of the members of the National Assembly.
The Daily Factsheet is based on direct observation of the Senate proceedings conducted by Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), a member organization of FAFEN
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