Islamabad: The National Assembly met for an hour and 38 minutes during the 10th sitting of the ongoing session. The sitting was marked by low Members’ attendance. Only 52 Members present at the outset, while 88 were present when the sitting was adjourned.
The sitting was productive as all the listed items on the Orders of the Day were disposed off during the sitting. The National Assembly unanimously passed the Private Power and Infrastructure Board Bill 2010 and the Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill 2010.
The Prime Minister attended the proceedings briefly for 20 minutes, while the Leader of Opposition was absent. The Parliamentary Leader of the NPP was the only one present, while the leaders of other parliamentary parties remained absent.
Following are some key observations of the Parliamentary Business:
Members’ Participation in House Proceedings
The National Assembly met for an hour and 38 minutes. The tenth sitting started at 1047 Hours against the scheduled starting time of 1000 hours. The proceedings started late by 47 minutes. The entire sitting was presided over by the Deputy Speaker.
The Prime Minister attended the sitting for 20 minutes, while the Leader of the Opposition was absent. The Parliamentary Leader of the NPP was the only one present, while the leaders of the PML, MMAP, ANP, MQM, PPPS and PMLF were absent.
The Chief Whips of PPPP, PMLN, ANP and MMAP were present, while the chief whips of the PML, MQM, PMLF and BNPA were absent. A total of 52 (15%) Members were present at the outset, while 88 (26%) were present at the end of the sitting. Maximum presence of 112 Members (33%) was observed at one point of the sitting, when the Prime Minister was present.
Seven Members applied for leave of absence from the sitting. Seven out of 10 minority Members were present during the 10th sitting.
Representation and Responsiveness
The House took up the two Calling Attention Notices (CANs) on the Orders of the Day. The first CAN was regarding the “discontinuation of 115 passenger trains of Pakistan Railways despite spending billions of rupees on its restructuring”.
Moved by five PMLN Members, the notice was directed to the Ministry of Railways. The other CAN was about the “non-return of the pledged gold to the residents of district Swat by the National Bank of Pakistan despite waiving off their loans” which was directed to the Ministry of Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Planning and Development. It was moved by three PMLN Members.
A total of 17 questions were listed to be taken up during the Question Hour. However, only eight were raised and responded to by the relevant minister. A total of 14 Supplementary Questions were raised.
The National Assembly unanimously passed the Private Power and Infrastructure Board Bill 2010 and the Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill 2010. Two Standing Committee report regarding a Question of Privilege and the National Commission for Human Rights Bill 2011 were presented to the House. The annual report of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan was presented in the House.
Order and Institutionalization
A total of eight Points of Order were raised, consuming 17 minutes of the sitting time. However, none of the Points of Order attracted the Chair’s ruling. There were no instances of protests, walkouts or boycotts during the tenth sitting.
Orders of the Day were available to legislators, observers and others. Information on Members’ attendance was unavailable to observers and the public. The Quorum was visibly lacking at various stages during the sitting. However, lack of quorum was not pointed out by any of the Members.
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