Presidential address: National Assembly fails to thank Zardari

President Asif Ali Zardari. PHOTO: AFP

President Asif Ali Zardari. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Asif Ali Zardari exits the Presidency on Sunday without a motion of thanks from the National Assembly for his sixth address to the Parliament.

President Zardari had made history on June 10 as the first democratically elected head of the state in Pakistan to address the joint sessions of the Parliament six times.

According to the parliamentary procedure, after every address of the president both houses of the Parliament, the Senate and the National Assembly, hold debate and pass a motion of thanks.

In this regard, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed had moved a motion of thanks that said, “This House expresses gratitude to the President of Pakistan for his address to both the Houses assembled on 10th June, 2013.”

The motion appeared in agendas of fourth session of the lower house that started on August 13 and ended on August 30 but the task of passing the motion remained unfinished.

On the other hand, the Senate has concluded the debate on Presidential address and passed a motion of thanks on August 31.

The debate appeared on every single agenda of the day till the end. It was earlier delayed due to absence of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah who was supposed to open it. Later on, members from the opposition benches did discuss President Zardari’s five-year term but the treasury benches did not participate.

“This has not happened for the first time,” said a senior official at the National Assembly Secretariat.

Standing committees

Similar is the case with the standing committees which have not started working till date. Parliamentary committees play an important role of oversight and monitoring the working of relevant government ministries and in the parliamentary democracies and are regarded as eyes, ears of the Parliament.

The government has, however, missed the 30-day deadline of getting the parliamentary committees functional after election of prime minister and delayed the election process of the chairmen of these bodies.

According to the Rules of Business and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly (Rule 200) “…each committee shall consist of not more than [twenty] members to be elected by the Assembly within thirty days after the ascertainment of the Leader of the House.”

It was on August 21 when the lower house elected 34 committees, but it seems that the government is still dragging its feet on electing chairpersons of these parliamentary panels.

However, sources in the NA secretariat told The Express Tribune that there is likelihood that the standing committees are likely to start working from the next session of the National Assembly.

According to the tentative schedule, fifth session of the lower house is likely to start from September 16.

The record delay was witnessed when standing committees of the assembly elected after 2002 elections had started functioning after almost a year. A senior official at NA Secretariat said that the assembly which came into being after 2002 elections had elected four ad hoc committees and the rest were elected after a year.

Source: The Express Tribune

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