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Pak lawmakers losing interest in their job

4 June 2017 No Comment

by Javaid-ur-Rahman in The Nation, June 04, 2017
ISLAMABAD – There’s something seriously wrong with the Parliament as the disinterest of public representatives in the house proceedings is growing.

As many as 69 lawmakers did not make any contribution in the work of the National Assembly in the fourth parliamentary year, bringing the average attendance per sitting of active participants down to 60 percent from last year’s 65 percent.

The breakup compiled by an independent entity, Fafen, revealed that these lawmakers did not contribute to the parliamentary agenda or debates during this period at all.

The lack of interest of public representatives in their prime job can be gauged from the fact that the number of active participants dropped from 304 to 270 in the four parliamentary years.

The participation of the lawmakers in legislative process is calculate from their submitting any agenda (bills, adjournment motions, call-attention notices) in the National Assembly Secretariat or taking part in other deliberations on the floor of the House.

“As many as 270 lawmakers took part in the proceedings by contributing to the agenda or participating in debates during the fourth parliamentary year,” says the report by Fafen (Free and Fair Election Network).

These lawmakers included 142 members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), 33 of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), 32 of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), 22 of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and 12 of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).

As for the 69 inactive lawmakers, they included 60 men and nine women. The percentage of non-participating members was also high among the male lawmakers (22 percent) as compared to women (13 percent), according to the report.

These uninterested legislators belonged to nine political parties — 47 from PML-N, 13 from PPP, three from Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and one each from PTI, MQM, JUI-F, PML and NPP, while one lawmaker is independent, it says.

The National Assembly also witnessed 53 instances of walkouts, protests and boycotts. Most of the time, lawmakers belonging to the opposition benches resorted to protest, however, on three occasions the lawmakers belonging to ruling PML-N and the government-allied parties, the JUI-F and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), also staged walkouts.

The MQM lawmakers walked out of the House 12 times during the parliamentary year, mostly to register their protest over alleged excesses of security forces against their party workers and leaders in Karachi. They also raised their concerns over the conduct of the census and power shortages in Karachi.

The opposition parties staged collective walkouts 10 times during this period. These walkouts were instigated by the political controversy surrounding the prime minister and his family, remarks of a minister against the opposition lawmakers, hasty legislation etc.

The PPP staged seven walkouts individually to protest against the enforced disappearances of their party loyalists.

Lawmakers of the Awami National Party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the PTI, the PkMAP and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas also registered their concerns over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project by resorting to a walkout.

The lawmakers raised 31 percent less call-attention notice, 22 percent less questions and 18 percent less motions under rule 259 during the fourth year than the previous years. The National Assembly took up 74 percent of its regular agenda items while the remaining were left unaddressed either due to the absence of lawmakers concerned or early adjournment of proceedings.

The uniqueness of the fourth year’s legislation was the passage of eleven private members’ bills, as the assembly did not pass any non-treasury legislation during last three years.

The committees’ output also witnessed a considerable increase from 120 reports last year to 154 reports this year. The assembly also adopted 40 resolutions, of which 18 were sponsored by private lawmakers. The instance of protests, walkouts and identification of quorum also witnessed an increase as compared to the preceding year.

Amidst increasing political friction, the report says, the National Assembly addressed crucial issues of military courts, electoral reforms and the Fata reforms. It approved the 28th Constitutional Amendment to extend the term of military courts for another two years.

The House through legislative proposals addressed the issues of judicial reforms, economic and financial matters, institutional development and reforms and human rights. In addition, bills were passed on the subjects of security, education, health, governance, elections, accountability, environment, agriculture, parliamentary affairs and the prevention of electronic crimes.

The government initiated legislation on the Fata reforms package by introducing the Constitution (Thirtieth) Amendment Bill, 2017 and the Tribal Rewaj Bill, 2017, to give effect to these reforms.

The National Assembly made changes to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business to give representation to the Senate in the Public Accounts Committee and improve the practices regarding Question Hour and the committees’ reports.

Panama Papers problem

The assembly witnessed a dozen of protests by the opposition lawmakers over the Panama Papers case, demanding the prime minister to resign. The PML-N and the PTI lawmakers protested against each other twice during the year on the Panama leaks issue.

Following the Supreme Court’s verdict, the opposition also tried to move a privilege motion against the premier accusing him of making a false statement on the floor of the House, while, the Chair did not allow the motion to be moved.

The House rejected the opposition’s Panama Papers Inquiry Commission Bill initiated in the Senate and transmitted to the Lower House but approved the treasury’s legislation namely The ‘Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill’. http://nation.com.pk/national/04-Jun-2017/public-reps-losing-interest-in-their-job

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