94% legislators did not debate on PCNS recommendations


The joint session of parliament held from March 20 to April 12 saw only one-fourth of the session time spent on debating the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) formed to review relations with the United States and general foreign policy with 94 percent of the parliamentarians staying away from the crucial debate and only 28 (six percent) of the 445 legislators in the National Assembly and Senate debating the PCNS report for a total of 338 minutes.
Only four percent of the MNAs in the House of 341 and only 13 percent of senators in the House of 104 spoke on the relations with the US, said a FAFEN report.
Spread over nine sittings, the longest joint session in Pakistan’s parliamentary history unanimously approved new recommendations on relations with the US and general foreign policy. However, the debate showed that the parliamentarians were reluctant to share their thoughts on re-setting ties, which included issues of opening land supply lines for NATO troops in Afghanistan and the drone strikes inside Pakistan.
Only one-fourth of the session time was consumed on actually discussing the PCNS report and the rest of the time was taken up by discussions on targeted killings in Karachi and Balochistan, sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan, increase in prices of petroleum products and power outages.
The PCNS report was completely ignored in three sittings. In the eighth sitting, it was discussed for only 15 minutes by a PPP legislator. Though the opposition parties – PML-N and JUI-F rejected the first draft of PCNS recommendations, their legislators were conspicuous by way of their absence during the debate.
Three PML-N senators and two MNAs took part in the debate. The party has 104 legislators in the two Houses of parliament.
One parliamentarian each from the ANP, JUI-F, MMAP and the PML-F took part in the debate. Thirty-two MQM legislators in the two houses and 12 independents in the Senate stayed away from the debate on the report.
Though 11 legislators of the PPP shared their thoughts on the report, they only make up seven percent of the treasury benches in parliament.
Of 55 PML-Q legislators in parliament, only three took part in the debate, said the report.