ISLAMABAD, February 8, 2013: The National Assembly’s 49th session was marked by low interest of Members, Points of Order interrupting regular proceedings and late starts, leaving most of the agenda appearing on the Orders of the Day unaddressed, says a preliminary report issued by the Free and Fair Election Network.
Spread over 12 sittings from January 21 to February 8, the 24-hour and 24 minutes session did not take up 105 of the total 160 agenda items appearing on the Orders of the Day. Each sitting started with an average delay of 55 minutes and lasted two hours and two minutes.
The Lower House did not take up two treasury and seven Private Members’ Bills, 13 Resolutions, 19 Motions under Rule 259, 89 Starred Questions and three Calling Attention Notices.
A government Bill – the Islamabad Capital Territory Private Educational Institutions (Registration and Regulation) Bill 2012 – was passed during the session.
Since the National Assembly Secretariat does not make public the attendance record of Members, FAFEN conducts a head count at the start and end of each sitting. It also documents the actual time spent by the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
Like previous sessions, low attendance persisted as on average 59 members were present at the beginning and 48 at the end, while a maximum of 118 were present at one point during each sitting.
The Prime Minister and his counterpart the Leader of the Opposition attended one sitting each for 40 minutes and 133 minutes respectively. The Speaker chaired one sitting while the Deputy Speaker attended nine sittings.
The ANP parliamentary leader remained absent throughout the session. The party head of PML attended three sittings, followed by MQM and MMAP two each, and PMLF and BNPA leaders attended one sitting each.
A total of 127 Points of Order were raised, which consumed 40% of the session time. None of the Points of Order attracted the Chair’s formal ruling. If the Chair does not give a formal ruling on a Point of Order, it does not lead to any assembly output.
Out of the 127 starred questions (requiring oral replies) asked by legislators on the floor of the House, the ministers responded to 36, while 57 supplementary questions were also asked.
The House witnessed 18 walkouts during the session which consumed 557 minutes. The MMAP lawmakers staged eight walkouts over the imposition of Governor’s Rule in Balochistan.
About FAFEN: FAFEN is a network of 42 civil society organizations working to foster democratic accountabilities in Pakistan. It is governed by Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability.
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