63% members take part in 109th Senate session proceedings

ISLAMABAD, Jan 08 (NNI): Low participation and attendance of legislators, debate on the deadly terrorist attack in Peshawar and the passage of the 21st Constitution Amendment marked the 109th session of Senate that ended on Tuesday.

More than one-third of the legislators did not participate in the House proceedings. These included 15 legislators belonging to the PPPP, followed by ANP (five), PML-N (four), BNP-A (three), JUI-F (two) and one each from MQM and PML in addition to eight independent members.

Over half of the session time was spent on debating the massacre of children in Peshawar, devolution of the subject of health to the provinces and the issue of non-payment of net hydro profits. Around 2% of time was taken up in the passage of the 21st Constitution Amendment and the amendment in the Pakistan Army Act of 1952.

The session, comprising 12 sittings, began on December 19, 2014 and ended on January 6, 2015 – meeting for a total of 27 hours and 48 minutes. On average, each sitting lasted two hours and 19 minutes and started with a delay of 46 minutes.

Since the Senate Secretariat does not share the attendance record of members with the public, FAFEN conducts a headcount at the start and end of each sitting and documents the actual time spent on the floor by the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Leader of the House and the Opposition Leader.

The session continued to witness low attendance of legislators, with an average of 16 members present at the outset and 32 at the adjournment of each sitting.

The Prime Minister attended only two sittings for 162 minutes. Similarly, the Leader of the House and the Opposition Leader attended nine sittings each for 1,405 minutes and 1,276 minutes respectively. The Chairman chaired the proceedings for 58% of the session time, followed by the Deputy Chairman (30%). The remaining time was presided over by members of the Panel of Chairpersons.

The House adopted two resolutions to condemn the murder of children in Peshawar onDecember 16, 2014 and the killing of former JUI-F senator Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro in November 2014. Both resolutions were submitted by PPPP legislators as supplementary agenda.

Eighty-two points of order (POs) consumed 256 minutes (15%) of the session time. However, none of the POs raised were able to receive a formal ruling from the Chair. Unless the Chair gives a formal ruling on a PO, it does not lead to any assembly output.

The House witnessed four walkouts during the session. The entire opposition staged a walkout during the fourth sitting to protest the absence of the Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers for 37 minutes. Another four-minute protest was staged by the opposition during the ninth sitting against the increase in GST on petroleum products.

Similarly, ANP, PPPP, MQM and PML legislators walked out of the House during the eighth sitting against the absence of the Minister for Water and Power in the standing committee meetings. ANP, PkMAP and independent members walked out of the House once again during the eleventh sitting to protest the killing of ANP workers in Karachi. NNI


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