Islamabad/Lahore: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has sought a thorough review of rules of procedures national and provincial assemblies to make them in line with democratic traditions, says a press release issued today.

The rules of procedures of Pakistani assemblies, including the Punjab Assembly , are part of Common Law originating primarily in the practice of House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (UK).

The CPDI said that UK assemblies have introduced some revolutionary changes in the working of the House and many commonwealth countries have followed it. Pakistani assemblies are still lagging behind in term of efficiency, accountability and transparency. Similar observations can be made for general discussion, working hours, number of working days, budget sessions, quorum, and attendance of the MPAs and legislation process.

The CPDI further said that that the attendance of the MPAs in the Punjab assembly session has long been the classified information. With strong Right to Information legislation in the province, it has at last become possible to get such information. However, there are still some issues attached with the transparency. Whereas, the average attendance of the assembly, as shown on its website, is 180, the independent sources have not confirmed it.

The CPDI has suggested installing biometrics system at the gates of the assembly hall to take the attendance of the MPAs. CPDI has also proposed electing one speaker and 4 Deputy Speakers at the first sitting of the assembly after the general election. In this way, there will be a constant pressure on the government that in case of absence, opposition will get the chance to preside the session.

The CPDI said that the question hour is one of the most futile exercises of the Punjab Assembly . It is futile in the sense that a question submitted by a member can take two years to fetch the answer. One of the important functions of MPAs is the executive oversight; question hour is a very important tool for this oversight. CPDI has suggested that all questions submitted by MPAs should be answered at the floor of the house during the next session.

Maximum time limit for enacting or otherwise of a bill should also be fixed. Similarly, civil society organizations should also be allowed to table a bill in the assembly for legislation. Approval of budget is one of the very important functions of our assemblies but it is done in post haste, the CPDI added.