ISLAMABAD, December 18, 2012: The 7th sitting of the ongoing National Assembly session was marked by low attendance of members. Only 30 legislators were present at the start of the sitting while 81 were there when the sitting was adjourned. Additionally, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the parliamentary heads of MQM, MMAP, ANP, PML, PMLF, BNPA and PPPS remained absent.
Starting 27 minutes late, the sitting met for two hours and 24 minutes. Like previous Private Members’ Days, the agenda was ambitiously set which was not possible to take up during a span of a single sitting. Only five agenda items appearing on the Orders of the Day were taken up.
A total of 26 Points of Order were raised with consumed 58% of the sitting time.
Following are some key observations of the parliamentary business:
Members’ Participation in House Proceedings
- The National Assembly met for two hours and 24 minutes.
- The sitting started at 1127 hours against the scheduled starting time of 1100 hours, witnessing a delay of 27 minutes.
- The Deputy Speaker chaired the entire sitting. The Speaker was not present.
- The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition did not attend the sitting.
- Only the parliamentary leader of NPP – a single-member party in the National Assembly – attended the sitting while those of MQM, MMAP, ANP, PML, PMLF, BNPA and PPPS were absent.
- The chief whips of PPPP and PMLF were present whereas those of PMLN, MQM, MMAP, ANP, PML and PMLF did not attend the sitting.
- Thirty members (9% of the total membership) were present at the outset while 81 (24%) were there at the adjournment. A maximum of 112 (33%) members were present at one point of the sitting.
- Five minority members attended the sitting.
- Seven members applied for leave.
Representation and Responsiveness
- One of the two Calling Attention Notices (CANs) appearing on the Orders of the Day was taken up by the House. It was about the sale and auction of precious Gandhara artifacts in Western Museums.
- None of the eight motions under rule 259 appearing on the Orders of the Day were taken up.
- Question Hour was not held as it was a Private Members’ Day.
- The Acid Throwing and Burn Crime Bill 2012 and the Census (Amendment) Bill 2012 were taken up and sent to the respective standing committees.
- A standing committee report about the National Database and Registration Authority (Amendment) Bill 2011 was not presented.
Order and Institutionalization
- Twenty-six Points of Order were raised which consumed 84 minutes (58%) of the sitting time. None of the Points of Order attracted the Chair’s formal ruling.
- There was no instance of protest, boycott or walkout.
- Orders of the Day were available to legislators, observers and others.
- Information on members’ attendance was not available to observers and the public.
- The Quorum was visibly lacking at various stages of the sitting. However, it was not pointed out by any of the legislators.
The 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
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