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Low attendance of MPAs late starts mark 25th KP Assembly session

ISLAMABAD, May 15, 2012: Low Attendance of MPAs, Points of Order interrupting regular proceedings and late starts marked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s 25th session, says a Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) preliminary report on Tuesday.

The Assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Bill 2012, paving the way for holding local bodies’ polls in the province. Amid debate on creating new provinces, the Assembly adopted a Resolution for giving the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) representation in the House. The Resolution asked the President and the Federal Government to “ensure that the people of Federally Administered Tribal Areas should fully enjoy the protection and equally, under and before the law as inalienable right of every citizen under the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

The five sittings of the session, from May 04 to May 14 lasted nine hours and 41 minutes for five; an hour and 56 minutes on average per sitting. Each sitting started with an average delay of 45 minutes.

Apart from the Local Government Bill, the House also passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Cessation of Payment of Arrears on Advance Increments on Higher Educational Qualification Bill, 2012 and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities Bill, 2012.

Since the KP Assembly Secretariat does not make the attendance record public, FAFEN conducts a headcount of Members at the beginning and end of each sitting and documents the actual time spent on the floor of the House by the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

On average only 38 MPAs (30% of total membership of 124) were present at the outset and 52 (42%) at the end of each sitting.

The Chief Minister did not attend the entire session while the Leader of the Opposition was present during two sittings for 25% (148 minutes) of the session time. The Speaker chaired the proceedings for 25% of the session time and the remaining time was presided over by the Deputy Speaker – 75%. The parliamentary leader of the PPPS attended four sittings, PML three and PPPP and PMLN attended two sittings each.

A total of 33 Points of Order were raised, which consumed 21% of the total session time – 121 of 581 minutes. None of the Points of Order attracted the Chair’s formal ruling. Without the Chair’s formal ruling, these Points of Order do not lead to any output.  

Twenty-six out of 47 Starred questions (requiring oral replies) appearing on the Agenda were taken up and responded by the relevant ministries. On average five questions were asked per sitting. Additionally, 55 supplementary questions were asked.

The House witnessed two walkouts. During the second sitting, MMAP walked out of the House after one of its MPAs was asked by the Chair to shorten his speech on the FATA Resolution.  Similarly when an MPA was not allowed to speak during the Question Hour, she along with other female MPAs walked out of the House.  

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.