Senate: Six Bills Introduced: Three bills seek amendments in constitution

Islamabad: Six private members’ bills were introduced during Senate’s 97th session including three seeking amendments in the constitution, says Free and Fair Election Network FAFEN in its preliminary report on Sunday.

The constitutional amendment bills call for amending articles 1, 51 and 106, and 140A to empower the parliament to “create new provinces to allow the political parties to follow up on their election manifestos”, provide for representation of workers in parliament and the provincial assemblies, and bind the Election Commission to hold regular elections of the local government bodies within a specified period respectively.

Additionally, the Unattended Orphans Rehabilitation and Welfare Bill 2013, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan Amendment Bill 2013 and the Pakistan Pharmacy Council Bill 2013 were also introduced. The Civil
Servants Amendment Ordinance, 2013 and the Electoral Laws Amendment Ordinance, 2013 were also laid before the House.

Six out of the 16 resolutions on agenda were adopted during the session.
These included the Upper House condemning the Line of Control violations by the Indian armed forces and the crackdown in Egypt after the military’s takeover and the call for eradicating sale of spurious and substandard drugs.

A debate on the presidential address to parliament’s joint session on June 10, 2013 was held for four hour and 40 minute. Out of 22 Senators who took part in the debate, 11 were from PPPP, four PMLN, three ANP, two MQM and a single Senator each from JUIF and BNPA.

Twelve walkouts were documented during the proceedings consuming two hours. ANP and MQM Senators separately walked out over the arrest of their party workers in Karachi.

ANP Senators also staged a walkout when one of them was not allowed to ask a supplementary question. The JUIF protested the alleged rigging in by polls while MQM and the entire opposition staged separate walk outs over the registration of FIR by the Balochistan government against ARY News over airing Ziarat Residency attack video.

Similarly, the opposition parties separately and individually staged walkouts over the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s outstanding dues, postponement of by-elections in NA25, ministerial absence and failure to respond to agenda, Balochistan police delaying registration of FIR on the killing of ANP lawmaker’s cousin, missing BNPA leader and absence of Foreign Policy Advisor.

On an adjournment motion moved by PPPP Senator, the House discussed the armed standoff on August 15, 2013 on Islamabad’s Jinnah Avenue. Three PPPP Senators spoke on the incident.

A privilege motion by a PPPP Senator against the Finance Division for misinforming him about security papers of Managing Director was referred to the relevant Standing Committee.

The session from August 1930 lasted 30 hours and 31 minutes. On average each sitting lasted three hours and three minutes and was delayed by 45 minutes. The House took four breaks spanning 240 minutes 13% of the proceedings.

Low attendance persisted throughout the session. On average eight Senators were present at the beginning of each sitting, 23 at the adjournment and a maximum 40 Senators at any point during the proceedings.

The quorum although lacking on various occasions was only pointed out once by a PPPP Senator.

The Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition attended all the sittings. The Chairman presided over 67% 20 hours and 21 minutes of the session, the Deputy Chairman 16% while the remaining proceedings were chaired by the members of the Panel of Presiding Officers.

Two out of six calling attention notices about a rise in electricity prices and a proposal given to the Prime Minister to privatize Pakistan Steel Mills were taken up. The notices were addressed to the ministries of Water and Power and Industries and Production.

Eight Standing Committee reports were presented before the House; two each by the committees on Rules of Procedure and Privileges, Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs while Standing Committee on Interprovincial Coordination and Special Committee on mass transport system for Islamabad presented a single report each.

The Senate did not discuss seven motions under rule 218 on the performance of Pakistan Railways, situation arising out of night phone call packages, Afghan foreign policy, outstanding payment to AFV Rangers in Nowshera, appointment of superior court judges and the alleged irregularities/rigging in Elections 2013. A motion under rule 60 by a PPPP male Senator seeking details of suo motu action taken by high courts since 2009 was not taken up.

Out of 200 starred questions on the agenda, the house took up 67 as Senators asked an additional 120 supplementary questions.

While highlighting various regional and national issues, Senators spoke on 48 points of orders consuming 160 minutes 9% of the session time.

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