ISLAMABAD, January 1, 2015: Starting 20 minutes behind schedule, the first sitting of the National Assembly’s 17th session on Thursday witnessed a number of walkouts by opposition lawmakers against the absence of ministers and the government’s decision to increase GST on petroleum products, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).
Only 35 lawmakers (10%) were present at the start of the sitting and 62 (18%) at the time of adjournment. The quorum was visibly lacking at various stages of the sitting. However, it was not pointed out by any of the members.
The State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs moved a motion to suspend routine business and discuss the deadly attack at a school in Peshawar last month, which was unanimously passed by the House.
The Opposition Leader opened the debate on the motion under Rule 259 in which nine lawmakers spoke for two hours and 11 minutes. Three PML-N lawmakers participated in the debate for 54 minutes, followed by one member each from JUI-F (20 minutes), MQM (18), PPPP (16), PkMAP and an independent lawmaker (10 each) and JI (three minutes).
The Prime Minister did not attend the sitting, while the Opposition Leader was present for 63 minutes.
Following are some key observations of the Parliamentary business:
Members’ Participation in House Proceedings
- The National Assembly met for three hours and 20 minutes.
- The sitting started at 1620 hours against the scheduled time of 1600 hours, witnessing a delay of 20 minutes.
- The House observed a prayer break for 25 minutes.
- The Speaker presided over the sitting for an hour and 45 minutes while the remaining time was chaired by a member of panel of the chairpersons.
- The Deputy Speaker did not attend the sitting.
- The Prime Minister did not attend the sitting while the Leader of the Opposition was present for 63 minutes.
- The parliamentary leaders of MQM, APML, PkMAP, AMLP, JI, JUI-F and QWP attended the sitting.
- Thirty-five (10%) members (10%) were present at the outset and 62 (18%) at the time of adjournment. A maximum of 114 members (31%) were seen at one point of the sitting.
- Four minority members attended the sitting.
- None of the members applied for leave.
Representation and Responsiveness
- State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs moved a motion under Rule 259 to discuss the deadly attack at a school in Peshawar which was unanimously adopted by the House.
- Three PML-N lawmakers spoke on the motion for 54 minutes, followed by one member each from JUI-F (20 minutes), MQM (18), PPPP (16), PkMAP and independent lawmaker (10 minutes) and JI (three minutes).
Order and Institutionalization
- Members spoke on 12 points of order for 40 minutes. However, none of the POs attracted the Chair’s ruling.
- The entire opposition except the parliamentary leaders of MQM and PkMAP staged a walkout at 1648 hours against the government’s decision to increase GST on petroleum products. The walkout lasted two minutes.
- MQM lawmakers chanted slogans against the hike and separately walked out of the House at 1650 hours. However, they returned to attend the sitting after four minutes.
- PPPP lawmakers walked out at 1750 hours to protest the absence of ministers in the House and did not return till the sitting’s adjournment.
- ‘Orders of the Day’ was available to members, observers and others.
- Information on members’ attendance was not available to observers and the public.
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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 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 are excepted.
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