ISLAMABAD - The importance of the Balochistan package was demonstrated by the two joint sessions of the Parliament (November 24, 2009 and December 7-9, 2009), an event usually reserved for Presidential speeches and other extraordinary occasions. These views were expressed in the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) overview of the Joint Session of Parliament here on Monday. The overview further stated that according to the National Assembly figures, the attendance of the Parliamentarians was at a maximum i.e. 307 legislators and a minimum of i.e. 175 members during the session on December 07-09, 2009. However, the press reports suggested that the number of legislators present on December 07, 2009 in the sitting fell below 70 by the close of the day. The overview termed it healthy that the government placed these important proposals before the Parliament for debate and review. Since the Joint Session was not a part of the parliamentary calendar, one may argue that many legislators might have planned other activities. However, the National Assembly was scheduled to meet from December 07, 2009 to December 22 2009, therefore the absence of so many MNAs was somewhat inexplicable. It is for sometime that interest of the legislators in parliamentary business both in plenary and committees appears to be waning, which is a cause for concern. Political parties can play important role in exercising greater discipline on their members. The low attendance creates a rather negative image of the Parliament among the citizens. The level of debate was also not seen as particularly incisive. Whilst it was clear that the majority of parliamentarians and their parties broadly supported the package, most missed the opportunity to finetune as Senator Raza Rabbani had suggested. Few put forward specific suggestions and most of the discussion was general in nature. Out of the current total strength of 448 parliamentarians (338 in the National Assembly and 100 in the Senate), only 38 or 9 percent of the members spoke during the joint session of Parliament. The Parliament spent 10 hours and 30 minutes in session over the span of the two days or for a little over 5 hours a day on average. The PPPP consumed 13 percent of the total time whereas the PML-N legislators used 18 percent of the entire session debate. Speakers from the PML consumed 12 percent; the National Party Senators took 11 percent time of the joint session. Legislators from the ANP and the MQM consumed 7 and 5 percent time respectively of the entire session.