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BA Session Marked by Low Attendance of MPAs

ISLAMABAD, September 27, 2012: The 33rd session of Balochistan Assembly was marked by low attendance of Members, persistent lack of quorum, and late starts, says a Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) preliminary report on Thursday.

The brief session met for seven hours and 40 minutes for four sittings, from September 18–27, with each sitting on average meeting for an hour and 55 minutes and witnessing an average delay of 30 minutes.

In the backdrop of protests against the anti-Islam film on social media, the Balochistan Assembly adopted a Resolution to condemn the blasphemous video. This issue was also raised through Points of Order.

As the Balochistan Assembly does not make MPAs’ attendance public, FAFEN’s observers make a headcount at the beginning and end of each sitting, and actual time spent by the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Chief Minister during the session. On average, 14 members were present at the beginning and end of each sitting. At least two of the three minority members in the Assembly were present in each sitting.

The Chief Minister did not attend the entire session. The Speaker chaired 22% of the time, while the remaining time was presided over by the Deputy Speaker.

The quorum was visibly lacking at various stages of the session. However, it was not pointed out by any of the legislators.

The PMLN, PPPP, NP and JUI(I) parliamentary leaders did not attend the entire session, while the ANP attended all the sittings and BNPA and JUI leaders attended one sitting each.

The House passed two bills – the University of Loralai Bill 2012 and the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) Bill 2012 – during the session. Additionally, the House adopted four Resolutions on clean drinking water, agriculture, blasphemous video, and on not implementing the Resolutions which were earlier approved by the Assembly.

A total of 27 points of order were raised which consumed 28% (130 out of total 460 minutes) of the session time. None of the Points of Order attracted the Chair’s formal ruling. Unless the Chair gives a formal ruling on a Point of Order, it does not lead to any assembly output.

Members submitted 16 starred questions (requiring oral replies), of which 13 were taken up by the House. Additionally, seven supplementary questions were asked.

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.