The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly’s seven sittings during the recently held session were marked by persistently low attendance and speedy proceedings.
Throughout the session, which ran from August 27 to September 10, the assembly failed to start on time. Late appearances on part of elected representatives led to 30-35 minute delays.
On Monday, despite an incomplete house, four bills were passed in one hour. Although the sessions passed without any disruption, with no walkouts by opposition members, the hasty decisions cost the bills passed. The speaker kept saying “time shortage” if a parliamentarian diverted from a point, cutting their point short. In most cases, members scarcely had an opportunity to debate an issue.
The session would then carry on to a hurried question and answer session and later quick attention would be given to all the notices and point of orders. On one occasion, when a female member of the house suggested an amendment in a bill that was under discussion, the speaker, with annoyance, asked her if she wanted to withdraw her amendment.
The member, though willing to withdraw her proposed amendment, tried explaining her position but was told to be quiet as time was running out. “There should not be further ‘choo choon’ if you are withdrawing the amendment,” the speaker promptly said.
He later directed to omit the said words from the proceedings on the request of Minister for Higher Education Qazi Asad, who said the words “choo choon” were not suitable to become a part of the assembly meeting.
Bills were rushed through the assembly with little enthusiasm from members. During the September 4 (Tuesday) session, the house could not complete its agenda due to lack of quorum. The speaker asked for ringing the bells of the house for two minutes to apprise the members to attend proceedings, however, lapse of the given time could not allow for the proceedings to continue as there were only 23 members while the requirement is for 31 members.
Only 31 members were present during the K-P univerities bill 2012, K-P Disabled Persons Employment and Rehabilitation Bill 2012, K-P Borstal Institutions Bill 2012, and K-P Sacked Employees Appointment Bill 2012 which were all passed in haste. The overwhelming proportion of amendments suggested were withdrawn and still other amendments lapsed due to the absence of the mover.
When the sacked employees’ bill was being passed, senior provincial minister Bashir Bilour said that a committee has thoroughly discussed the bill for about three years. But the Leader of the Opposition, Akram Khan Durrani, argued that the bill fails to state what will happen if the reinstated people prove to be a burden for the future government. Bilour, with apparent impatience, asked to pass the bill, saying that the problems occurring would be dealt with in time.
In the wake of such developments certain questions, including MPA Saqibullah Chamkani’s question related to the Special Branch, was answered by the department concerned after one and a half hour.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2012.
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