Two Bills Introduced, Standing Committees Formed

ISLAMABAD, August 30, 2013: The National Assembly’s fourth session witnessed the introduction of two treasury-backed bills including one seeking amendment to the constitution and the approval of a motion to form 34 Standing Committees along with the opposition’s protests and walkouts over various issues, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its preliminary report on Friday.

The Constitution (23rd Amendment) Bill aiming for a 20-year extension for provincial quota in the federal government services and the Service Tribunals (Amendment) Bill 2013 were introduced. Additionally, the Civil Servants (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 and the Electoral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 were also laid before the house.

FAFEN recorded five walkouts in the session that consumed 65 minutes. JUI-F lawmakers protested against the postponement of by-elections in NA-25 (Tank). MQM lawmakers staged a walkout against the arrests of workers in Karachi. PTI, AMLP, JI and MQM lawmakers walked out against the law and order situation in the country and the registration of an FIR against ARY News channel for airing a video about the Ziarat Residency incident.

The entire opposition also staged a walkout against the August 24 arrest of PTI leaders and workers from a sit-in in Lahore, the frivolous attitude of the government over the Line of Control situation, non-payment of salaries to the employees of Pakistan Steel Mills, and a lack of interest by the government over briefing to the legislators by Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign and National Security Affairs.

The 13-sitting session from August 13 to August 30 lasted 34 hours and 47 minutes. The sittings were delayed on average by 31 minutes and lasted two hours and 41 minutes. The assembly took three breaks for a total of 105 minutes, or 5% of the session time.

The Prime Minister did not attend the session while the Leader of the Opposition was present in eleven sittings. The Speaker presided over 52% of the session (18 hours and eight minutes), the Deputy Speaker 35% (12 hours), while the remaining proceedings were chaired by members of the Panel of Chairpersons.

Lawmakers belonging to PPPP, JUIF, PkMAP, MQM, PTI, PMLN, AMLP and an independent member from FATA took part in a discussion on the presidential address to the joint session of the parliament on June 10, 2013. In the first sitting, the agenda on the orders of the day was suspended under Rule 288 of the NA’s Rules of Procedure to debate the Line of Control violations by Indian military forces.

Out of 256 starred questions on the agenda during the session, 54 were taken up. Additionally, the legislators asked 118 supplementary questions.

The National Assembly also approved a motion to set up 34 Standing Committees.

Members’ attendance during the session was low: 21% (67 MNAs) were present on average at the beginning, 22% (72) at the end and a maximum of 44% (142) were present on average at any one point.

The House adopted four out of eighteen resolutions on the agenda: 1) dismay over the removal of the democratically elected government and the assault on public in Egypt; 2) end beggary in Islamabad Capital Territory; 3) condemnation of the continued violations of the ceasefire across the Line of Control (LoC) by the Indian Army; and 4) tribute to Captain Sarfraz who was martyred due to unprovoked shelling by the Indian troops in Shaqma sector near Skardu. The four resolutions were moved either singly or jointly by MNAs of JI, PMLN, PTI, MQM, PkMAP, PPPP and AMLP.

The Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs and Statistics presented two reports of the Federal Accounts for the financial year 2011-2012 and the Auditor General for the audit year 2012-2013.

Ten Calling Attention Notices were taken up on increase in electricity and gas tariffs, floods, negligence of WAPDA in Buner, delay in construction of Khanewal-Lodhran Expressway, terrorist attacks in Islamabad and on trains, environmental degradation, education, labeling of mosques as terrorist organizations by the New York Police Department, and a possible American attack on Syria and the threat of a Russian attack on Saudi Arabia.

A female PMLN MNA tabled a Motion under Rule 259 to discuss the extravagant spending of Pakistani embassies abroad. Additionally, a matter of public importance was submitted by a PTI male MNA on the failure of the Federal Board of Revenue to achieve the targets set for the collection of taxes for 2012-13.

The lawmakers spoke on 292 points of order consuming three hours and 39 minutes of the proceedings. Additionally a PMLN MNA submitted a Question of Privilege about police’s attitude, which was referred to the relevant committee.

The lack of quorum was pointed out two times in the seventh and 12th sittings. A headcount found the quorum complete on both occasions.

The House also made an amendment to rule 169 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2007.


Disclaimer: 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.