NA Session Marked by Low Interest of MNAs; Ministerial Absence

ISLAMABAD, November 13, 2013: Marked by low interest of MNAs and ministerial absence, the 6th session of the 14th National Assembly left 61% of the agenda items unaddressed, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) on Wednesday in its report based on the direct observation of the Lower House.

Members’ interest in the proceedings remained low throughout the session. On average, only 66 legislators were present at the outset and 77 at the adjournment of each sitting. Since the National Assembly Secretariat does not make public the attendance of Members, FAFEN conducts a headcount at the start and end of each sitting and documents the actual time spent by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on the floor of the House.

The Prime Minister did not attend the entire session, while his counterpart, the Leader of the Opposition was present in all the sittings for 75% (909 minutes) of the session time. The session held seven sittings from November 4 to 12, 2013 meeting for 20 hours and 17 minutes. On average, each sitting lasted two hours and 54 minutes with a delay of 49 minutes.

Around 61% of the agenda items appearing on the Orders of the Day remained unaddressed. Most of the session time was consumed by a debate on recent drone attacks in North Waziristan. The debate consumed 58% of the session time while the Points of Order took five hours and 17 minutes. However, none of the Points of Order attracted the Chair’s formal ruling. Unless the Chair gives a formal ruling on a Point of Order, it does not lead to any assembly output.

The House did not take up seven Private Members’ Bills, two Calling Attention Notices, five Motions under Rule 259, three Resolutions and one Matter of Public Importance.

However, the House adopted three Resolutions – two on Local Government elections and another on Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. The Speaker chaired the proceedings for 67% of the session time while the remaining time – 26% – was presided over by the Deputy Speaker. Seven percent of the total time was consumed by breaks.

The Parliamentary Leaders of PkMAP and ANP attended six sittings each, followed by MQM, JI, PML-Z, AMLP leaders (four each), APML, QWP-S (three each), and the Parliamentary heads of PML-F, NPP, PML, BNP, AJIP, NP attended two sittings each.

Although the quorum was visibly lacking at various stages of the session, it was pointed only once by a male PPPP legislator during the second sitting. However, the sitting resumed after the headcount of Members.

A total of 174 questions – 75 starred (requiring oral replies) and 99 unstarred (requiring written replies) – were submitted to various ministries. Out of these, 139 were fully answered, 32 received no response while three questions were sent back to Cabinet Division, Ministry of Housing and Works and Commerce Division for replies.

Five Bills – two government (the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2013) and three Private Members’ Bills (the Ratification of International Treaties Bill 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 and Pakistan Baitul Mal (Amendment) Bill, 2013) – were introduced and sent to the relevant Standing Committees for further deliberations.

Three Ordinances — the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 (No. 7 of 2013), the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 (No. 8 of 2013) and the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (No. 9 of 2013) – were presented to the House.

The House witnessed two walkouts during the session. With the exception MQM, all Opposition Members staged walkouts over ministerial absence, especially the Prime Minister during the 5th sitting. The walkouts lasted 54 minutes.


This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of FAFEN and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.This Daily Factsheet 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 excepted