Top parliamentary performers in the 13th National Assembly

The legislators of the main opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), actively took part in the parliamentary proceedings during the five years in the 13th National Assembly. They sponsored the most agenda items, including oversight over the executive through the Question Hour and Calling Attention Notices, and representation by raising issues of public interest through Matters of Public Importance, Motions under Rule 259, and Resolutions.

However Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML) legislators took lead in legislation, introducing most number of Private Members’ bills.

Moreover women parliamentarians on reserved seats tabled most number of Questions, Calling Attentions Notices, Private Members’ Bills, Resolutions, Motions under Rule 259 and Matters of Public Importance.

A PMLN legislator, Shireen Arshad Khan, topped the list by authoring 35 Resolutions – 27 individually and eight jointly. Similarly, PMLN’s Nisar Tanveer asked the most number of questions during the Question Hour 535 – 322 starred and 213 unstarred during 48 sessions of the 13th National Assembly. She was followed by Shireen Arshad Khan who sponsored 527 Questions.

Again Nisar Tanveer raised the most – 30 – Matters of Public Importance while her party colleague Khalida Mansoor topped the list of Motion under Rule 259 by submitting 31 Motions. The Leader of the Opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, raised the most Points of Order 287, followed by Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah.

PPPP’s Yasmeen Rehman authored the most number of Private Members’ Bills either in collaboration with her colleagues or in her individual capacity. She was followed by Donya Aziz (PML), Marvi Memon (ex-Member PML), Shakeela Khanam Rashid (PPPP) and Naseer Bhutta (PMLN).

FAFEN analysis is based on direct observation of the National Assembly regular sessions held in the five parliamentary years from March 2008 to January 2013. It assesses the performance of the legislature using transparency, participation, responsiveness, output and order and institutionalization as criterion.

Five Years at a Glance

The 13th National Assembly, which took oath on March 17, 2008, worked to achieve political maturity leading to landmark constitutional changes giving Pakistan a new political direction amid difficult and trying circumstances.

According to Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) observation, the Lower House held 48 sessions in the five years meeting for a total of 476 sittings – 100 in the first, 107 in the second, 109 in the third, 103 in the fourth and 57 sittings in the fifth parliamentary year so far.

In the five years, the National Assembly passed a total of 115 bills. Though the House passed only five bills in the first parliamentary year, the legislation picked up pace in the second, third and fourth parliamentary years. The Lower House passed 32, 31, 30 and 17 bills respectively. These included the historical 18th and 20th constitutional amendment bills ensuring greater provincial autonomy and giving Pakistan a consensus mechanism for transfer of power democratically.

Unlike the past assemblies where the legislation was almost completely dominated by the government-backed bills, the 13th National Assembly witnessed Private Member bills becoming laws.

A total of 176 Private Members bills were introduced in the 13th National Assembly; out of which 10 became laws – one in the first, three in the second, one in the third, three in the fourth and two in the fifth parliamentary year.

Additionally the 13th Assembly passed pro-women bills such as the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2009, the Criminal Law (Third Amendment) Bill 2010, the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010, the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Bill — earlier tabled as the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010 — and the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill 2011.

Legislators asked 15,213 questions during the five years – 3,483 in the first, 4,238 in the second, 3,127 in the third, 2,544 in the fourth and 1,821 in the fifth parliamentary year. The government provided replies to 12,090 questions – 2,911 in the first, 3,477 in the second, 2,494 in the third, 1,918 in the fourth, and 1,290 in the fifth parliamentary year. In other words 3,123 questions that made to the floor of the House remained unanswered.

Out of the 336 resolutions presented in the House over the five years, 73 were adopted. The National Assembly adopted 15 resolutions each in the first and second parliamentary years out of the 70 and 57 presented in the House. Out of the 51 and 48 resolutions presented in the House in the third and fourth parliamentary years, 13 and 8 were adopted. Twenty-three resolutions were adopted during the fifth parliamentary year.

The legislators brought in matters of urgent public importance to the House through Calling Attentions Notices – 108 in the first, 105 in the second, 114 in the third, 122 in the fourth, and 95 in the fifth parliamentary year.

The parliamentarians increasingly made use of Points of Order to express themselves on a host of issues in the House. Though in the first parliamentary year, the legislators raised 683 Points of Order, the use and number sharply increased in the second (957), third (1,228), and fourth (1,275) year. During the fifth parliamentary year, a total of 597 Points of Order were raised.

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.