ISLAMABAD - The legislators’ participation in parliamentary affairs in the National Assembly is declining fast since the revival of democracy in 2008.

Ignoring their prime responsibility, more than half of MNAs in the 342-member house have shown least interest in legislation over the years.

Over 200 MNAs including parliamentary leaders of political parties never posed any question during the compulsory ‘question-hour’ (first hour of National Assembly).

“Question-hour is the first hour of a sitting session of parliament devoted to questions that members of the Parliament raise about any aspect of the administrative activity. The concerned ministers/state ministers are obliged to answer to the Parliament, either orally or in writing, depending on the type of question raised,” according to the rules and procedure of National Assembly.

As many as 110 lawmakers including 45 women members used their right to ask questions from the government (during the question-hour), according to figures compiled by the independent entity, FAFEN, regarding the 4th parliament year.

The breakup of the political parties revealed that 38 lawmakers of the PML-N, 19 of the PPP-P, 18 of the PTI, 13 of MQM and lawmakers of smaller parties used their right to ask questions.

According to details of 4th parliamentary year, a total of 2,295 questions including 1,789 starred questions were admitted for answers till the end of the year. As many as 2,035 starred questions in the first parliamentary year were posed, 17,664 in the second, 1,973 in third and 1,789 in the last (fourth parliamentary year).

While the un-starred questions including 2,616 in the first parliamentary year, 1,215 in the second, 987 in the three and 506 were posed in the outgoing parliamentary year.

According to the rules and procedure, each ‘starred question’ is required to be answered in writing as well as orally. However, less than one-third, 564 (31 percent) questions were taken up on the floor of the house for oral answers. In the starred question, 97 were even not answered, revealed the figures. 

The MNAs asked 1,194 supplementary questions for further elucidation of answers. Moreover, the executive failed to provide timely answers to 221 (nine percent) questions during this year.

The data shows that the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control received the highest number of questions (222), which was followed by the Ministry of Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatisation with a total of 219 questions.

According to questions put up ministry-wise, 222 related to the interior ministry, 219 finance and revenue, 180 CADD, 169 Water and Power Ministry, 169 commerce, 157 petroleum and natural resources, 133 foreign affairs, 102 national health, 99 communications, 91 planning and  development, 71 housing and works, 62 Cabinet Secretariat, 60 inter-provincial, 57 law and justice, 52 federal education, 52 railways, 49 aviation division, 43 industries and production, 41 overseas Pakistanis, 40 human rights, 40 states and frontier, 37 information ministry, 36 religious affairs, 32 climate change division, 29 national food security, 27 Establishment Division, 24 parliamentary affairs, 23 science and technology and others.

The disinterest of MNAs in legislation shows that participation level is declining with each passing year as nearly 200 MNAs including parliamentary leaders of political parties never moved a single bill in the four-year of the National Assembly.

Over 100 PML-N lawmakers took the lead by not moving a single bill in the house, which was the main part of their job.

Likewise, around 30 lawmakers of the PPP also did not take interest to move a bill in the house. Around 10 PTI MNAs stood third for their lack of interest to move a bill, say the figures.