ISLAMABAD        -           The parliamentary leaders of national assembly yesterday reached a consensus to hold physical session of National Assembly with a view to continue its role of parliamentary oversight on Executive.

The parliamentary committee on virtual session in its second meeting decided not to experience virtual session and go for physical session of national assembly in next month. In order to conduct physical session of national assembly, social distancing mechanism would carried out in national assembly hall, which has space to conduct even joint session of parliament.

The parliamentary committee on the Virtual Session of the National Assembly was held in Parliament House, with Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister for National Food Security and Research in the Chair.

The parliamentary leaders were of the view that Parliament embodies the will of the people; therefore, it should be made functional to continue its role of parliamentary oversight on Executive.

The members of the committee shared with this newspaper that the idea of virtual session was not practicable and legislation could be challenged in the court at any stage. The selection of members to attend the virtual session was also difficult task for political parties.

In Wednesday’s session, the parliamentary leaders extended their all-out support to the Speaker National Assembly in conduct of the session of the Assembly in presence of the pandemic.  

Participating in the meeting through video link, PPPP Parliamentary Leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that there was no provision in the rules of the Assembly for a virtual session; therefore, actual session should be called to take up pertinent issues concerning public at large besides important legislation. He suggested to ensure health SoPs in wake of the pandemic for safety of the Parliamentarians and Parliamentary support staff.

 PML N leaders Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq supported the idea of a physical session keeping in view the inadequate I.T facilitates. They said that virtual session would erode the dignity and sanctity of the Parliament and the essence of the participatory democracy. They said that agenda, number of members to be present in each sitting of the Assembly and other issues could be decided in consonance. MMA, BAP and JI leaders Ms. Shahida Akthar Ali, Mr. Khalid Hussain Magsi and Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali supported the idea of physical session with strict observance of health SoPs.

Federal Ministers Makhdoon Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Dr. Fehmida Mirza expressing their point of view said that actual session of the Assembly may be convened with adoption of health guidelines so that the safety of the Members and the staff was not compromised. They said that it heartening to note that all the political forces were on same page during present crisis.

Qureshi said that suggestions put forth by the Parliamentary leaders were practical and further modalities may be worked out in light of these suggestions. Advisor to PM on Parliamentary Affairs apprised the Committee about the pending legislation with the both the Houses of the Parliament and Standing Committees. He said that the session of the Assembly would help in expediting the pending legislation.