ISLAMABAD                  -              Since all the Parliamentary business have been suspended to avoid spread of Coronavirus [COVID-19], opposition parties floating proposal to allow holding online Standing Committees session of National Assembly. A lot of important work is pending in the Standing Committees of National Assembly, which could be disposed of only by conducting online Standing Committees of the national assembly.

The lawmakers in their constituencies have enough time to periodically conduct at least meetings of important standing committees, said the opposition MNAs expressing their concerns over the suspension of parliamentary business due to deadly virus. Speaker national assembly Asad Qaiser around two weeks before [on 13th March] with the consultation of opposition parties had abruptly prorogued the session of national assembly and stopped all the working of standing committees.

Due to current situation arising out of Coronavirus threat, an initiative was taken to form a 25-member special committee on Coronavirus was formed that would start its function by the end of this week.

Unsatisfied from the sudden suspension of parliamentary business, the opposition asked speaker national assembly to arrange online meetings of the national assembly committees. “Speaker national assembly should have arranged online standing committee’s meeting,” said PPP-P’s central information secretary Nafeesa Shah talking to The Nation. Due to suspension of parliament, she said, the MNAs in their constituencies have a lot of time to work. “Speaker is behaving like dictator, he should allow holding online meetings,” she said, expressing annoyance over turning down her proposal for allowing online meetings of standing committees.

“I floated a proposal to call finance committee meeting but speaker has not given permission. This is very unfortunate, as speaker should not behave like dictator, she commented.

Another MNA from main opposition party [PML-N] Mian Javed Latif said that incumbent government had already missed many targets. “This is a time to make some proper arrangement for necessary legislative business,” he said. 

The recently formed parliamentary body to oversee situation arising out of deadly virus can also think about widening its scope to give suggestion about legislative business, he said.

The function of this parliamentary committee will probably start by the end of current week to thoroughly discuss the worsening situation due to novel virus in the country.  In the current scenario, this will be only functional parliamentary body, as the role of standing committee of both the houses [National Assembly and Senate] have stopped with the sudden suspension of parliament. The political and constitutional experts viewed that the defined Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the National Assembly may allow doing unprecedented legislative measures in current situation.

The number of COVID-19 patients are fast increasing in the country as reportedly in Pakistan tally has reached 1925 with maximum number of cases in Sidh province[677].

The cases in Punjab are 658, 158 in Balochitsan, 148 in AJK, 221 in KPK and 58 in federal capital. The number of cases is increasing on daily basis. As many as 58 patients have recovered and 26 confirmed deaths reported due to Coronavirus infection.