ISLAMABAD-The National Assembly Secretariat, in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19, is in a process of installing a system to hold virtual meetings of parliamentary committees, it has been learnt reliably.

For the purpose, Speaker National Assembly Speaker has assigned a special task to the Administration Wing of the National Assembly Secretariat. Several proposals have been pondered over and relevant departments of government related to Information Technology have also been consulted in this regard.

To avoid the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Information Technology’s concerned wing and National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) have also been consulted to ensure virtual sessions of standing committees and other parliamentary committees.

Sources in the National Assembly Secretariat said that there were also suggestions to amend rules of procedure and later introduce the provision of virtual sessions.  National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, in the first wave of Coronavirus, appeared as pioneer of conducting virtual meetings of parliamentary leaders. The virtual meetings of federal cabinet meetings have also been held a couple of months before surge in cases of Coronavirus. 

“Owing to the second wave of COVID-19, some measures are under consideration to ensure smooth functions of the National Assembly Secretariat by conducting virtual meetings,” said the speaker of the National Assembly, talking to The Nation. 

He said that it would be the priority to make all out efforts to avoid Coronavirus and make sure conducting the Parliamentary meetings. Due to the declining trend of Coronavirus cases in the country, around four months earlier, the National Assembly Secretariat allowed conducting physical/regular meetings. 

A parliamentary body comprising three former speakers of National Assembly and other senior members, around six months ago, jointly deliberated for amending the rules to make possible convening unusual session of Parliament, amid Coronavirus scare. Whereas, a series of meetings on this issue could not reach a conclusion to hold a virtual session of Parliament. Following the concept of digital democracy, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser had also tried to take an initiative by constituting a bipartisan Parliamentary committee to deliberate possible measures to combat the dangerous virus. 

The National Assembly Secretariat has advised MPs and its staff to get themselves tested for Coronavirus before attending upcoming National Assembly sessions.

Political pundits viewed that the opposition is in an offensive mood due to many factors .The parliamentary virtual meetings would not be able to carry healthy discussion on legislative issues. It would be an achievement of the National Assembly Secretariat to continue virtual meetings on different matters.