Opposition parties dominate Senate standing bodies

March 26,2019

ISLAMABAD: The opposition parties dominate the standing committees of the Senate unlike the National Assembly where the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and its allies control the House...

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ISLAMABAD: The opposition parties dominate the standing committees of the Senate unlike the National Assembly where the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its allies control the House bodies.

Meanwhile, the posts of chairmen of four National Assembly standing committees are still vacant even after the passage of seven months. They include the bodies for Communications, Statistics Division, Energy and appointment of chairperson of National Commission on Status of Women. There a total of 46 committees of the Lower House of Parliament.

Parliamentary observers say due to their grip in the Senate and its committees, the opposition parties are in a comfortable position to pass or reject any bill. It is because of this numerical superiority that the ruling coalition has not yet brought before the Upper House any legislative proposal for approval. However, the government has often stressed consensus in lawmaking. But there has been no breakthrough. The data shows that of the 55 Senate committees, the nominees of the PML-N, PPP and their allies are chairmen of 31House bodies.

On the other hand, the representatives of the PTI and its coalition partners preside over only 10 standing committees of the Senate.

The PML-N has 14 chairmen; the PPP has 11heads; the National Party of Hasil Bizenjo and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has two chiefs each, and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and Awami National Party (ANP) have one chairman each.

The PTI nominees are chairmen of five committees; the representatives of the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) preside over three House bodies; and the senators of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) and PML-Functional chair one forum each.

The second largest group of chairmen after the PML-N consists of independents. They all belong to Balochistan and tribal areas. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, who also falls in this category, heads three committees--business advisory, finance and promotion and development of football in Pakistan.

Three parliamentary parties--ANP, BNP-M, and PML-Functional--have only one senator each. All of them are heads of different standing committees.

The PTI senators, who head different committees include Faisal Javed, Mohsin Aziz, Fida Muhammad and Azam Swati, who leads two House bodies on defence and library.

There are standing committees; functional committees; committee on government assurances; committee on problems of less developed areas; committee on human rights; committee on rules of procedure; and privileges and House committee in the Senate. There is hardly any senator, who is not member of one or more forums.

It has been stated that recognized as political nerve ends, the gatherers of information, the sifters of alternatives, the refiners of legislative detail, and the eyes and ears of Parliament, much of the House business is handled by the committees. The Senate has an efficient committee system which has established traditions of sovereignty of Parliament over the years and has dealt with a wide range of issues of national importance and public interest.

With a total membership of not more than 14 members, who have been elected by the Senate, the minister or adviser concerned is an ex-officio member of the committee. The minister or adviser is not entitled to vote as an ex-officio member unless he is a senator. Under the rules, a member cannot be a member of more than five standing committees at the same time.

The committee on rules of procedure and privileges considers matters regarding the procedure and conduct of business in the House and disposes of the privilege motions moved by the senators. As per Rule 163, all other matters, including the composition and election to this committee is regulated mutatis mutandis by rules relating to standing committees. The parliamentary affairs minister is its ex-officio member.


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