- Sindh Assembly met for the highest number of working hours and held highest number of sittings in 5-years among the four Provincial Assemblies.
- KP Assembly passed most laws but ranked last in CM’s attendance; it also has the lowest budget allocation per working hour. KP Assembly turns out to be the most transparent of four assemblies
- Punjab Assembly ranked last in attendance of Leader of the Opposition and the lowest allocated budget per member but the highest allocated budget per working hour
- Balochistan Assembly tops in attendance of the CM and Leader of the Opposition with the highest allocated budget per member during five years and ranked last in legislative activity, sittings held and working hours.
September 21; While the World’s dependency on public access to information and transparency grows leaps and bounds, Pakistan’s legislatures, especially our four Provincial Assemblies, have begun to regress and withdraw public information from the citizens. Parliamentary transparency in general and legislative transparency in particular have been shrinking in Pakistan’s Provincial Assemblies since 2018. Limited access of legislative proceedings of Provincial Assemblies to citizens violates the basic principle of transparency and in turn promotes lack of public trust in these assemblies.
In this digital era, availability of information on performance of Provincial Assemblies remains problematic and much of the important information is not made actively available on the websites of these assemblies. Although, elected legislatures are required to provide easy public access to information, these Assemblies have continued to deny transparency and public access.
A brief PILDAT score card showcases the status of transparency and access to information by four Provincial Assemblies. As per the publicly available information on the websites of these assemblies, the KP Assembly outranked all other Provincial Assemblies with a score of 8.5 out of 11. This is the only assembly which is providing live telecast of KP Assembly proceedings. While the Punjab Assembly has begun to withhold information and access by choosing not to provide complete information on its website. It must be noted that the Punjab Assembly was the first to have introduced live webcast of assembly proceedings in 2002 but it chose to suspend this in 2021 and has never revived the practice since. The Punjab Assembly has ranked second with a score of 7 out of 11 when compared with other assemblies. However, out of four Provincial Assemblies, only the Punjab Assembly has provided complete attendance records of MPAs on its website. The Balochistan Assembly ranked third by securing 6.5 score out of 11 while the Sindh Assembly is providing the least information on its website and ranked at last number with 5.5 score.
Table 1: Public Access and Transparency
As far as the Verbatim debates are concerned, only Sindh Assembly does not provide this access to citizens while KP Assembly has stopped uploading of verbatim reports after July 26, 2022. The Provincial Assemblies of Punjab and Balochistan have provided up to date verbatim records on their respective websites.
A brief comparative analysis of performance of four Provincial Assemblies has been compiled by PILDAT. The comparative performance, overall, does not differ much from that of the 15th National Assembly which did little to strengthen democracy and introduce critical legislative reforms.
While the Provincial Assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) were dissolved prematurely on January 14 and January 18 respectively, the Sindh Assembly too was dissolved just before conclusion of its term on August 11, 2023 leaving only the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan to complete its five-years term until August 12, 2023.
Working Days (Actual Sittings)
The Provincial Assembly of Sindh outranked other three Provincial Assemblies in terms of sittings held during five-years of its term as it convened 326 sittings with an average of 65 sittings per year. The Provincial Assembly of Punjab met for 274 days with an average of 62 sittings per year during its 4 years and 5 months tenure. The Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa held 248 sittings with an average of 56 sittings per year. Lowest number of sittings, 241, with an average of 48 sittings per year, were convened by the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan in five-years.
The Provincial Assembly of Sindh was convened for most working hours, i.e., 921 hours with an average of 184 hours and 20 minutes per year during five years of its term. The average working hours per sitting during its 5-year term were approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes. It must be noted that on average, cost of a working hour in Sindh Assembly during 5 years stood at PKR 14.94 million according to the allocated budget of the Assembly.
The KP Assembly met for 574 hours and 27 minutes with an average of 130 hours per year. Its average number of working hours per sitting were witnessed at 2 hours and 21 minutes. As per the allocated budget, on average cost of a working hour in the KP Assembly stood at PKR 13.31 million during its term.
The Provincial Assembly of Punjab convened for 530 hours and 47 minutes with an average of 120 hours and 12 minutes per year. Its average number of working hours per sitting were estimated at 2 hours. On average, the cost of a working hour as per the assembly allocated budget remained at PKR 26.34 million during 5-year term.
During five years, the Balochistan Assembly was convened for 581 hours and 18 minutes with an average of 116 hours per year. The average number of working hours per sitting were 2 hours and 25 minutes. It must be noted that on average, cost of a working hour in Balochistan Assembly during 5 years stood at PKR 17.43 million according to the allocated budget of the Assembly.
Attendance of Chief Ministers
Contrary to the lowest number of laws passed, sittings and working hours, Provincial Assembly of Balochistan has outperformed in terms of attendance of Chief Ministers who have attended highest percentage (31%) of sittings of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan during five years term. This is a combined attendance of Jam Kamal Khan, MPA (PB-50 Lasbela-II, Balochistan, BAP) who attended 33% sittings and Mir Abdul Quddus Bezinjo, MPA (PB-44 Awaran-cum-Panjgur, Balochistan, BAP) who attended only 18% sittings. Jam Kamal Khan had resigned as CM on October 24, 2021 and Mir Abdul Quddus Bezinjo replaced him as CM on October 29, 2021.
Similarly, during five years, Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, MPA (PS-80 Jamshoro-I, Sindh, PPPP) attended 26% sittings of the Sindh Assembly.
During 4 years and 5 months tenure, Chief Ministers of Punjab attended only 14% sittings. This is also a combined attendance of three Chief Ministers. Sardar Usman Ahmed Khan Buzdar, MPA (PP-286 Dera Ghazi Khan-II, Punjab, PTI) resigned as CM on March 28, 2022 and attended only 10% sittings during his tenure of 3 years and 7 months. Mr. Muhammad Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, MPA (PP-146 Lahore-III, Punjab, PML-N) was elected as CM on April 16, 2022 and attended 57% sittings during his tenure of three and a half month as Chief Minister. He was then replaced by Mr. Parvez Elahi, MPA (PP-30 Gujrat-III, Punjab, PML) on July 26, 2022 who attended 23% sittings during his tenure of 5 and a half month as CM.
The lowest attendance of any of the four Chief Ministers was by Chief Minister KP, Mr. Mahmood Khan, MPA (PK-9 Swat-VIII, KP, PTI) who attended only 8% sittings of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during his tenure of 4 years and 5 months.
Attendance of Leaders of the Opposition
Similar to the attendance of CM of Balochistan, the Balochistan Assembly also ranked at top as the Leader of the Opposition in the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Malik Sikandar Khan, MPA (PB-25 Quetta-II, Balochistan, MMAP) who attended 63% sittings during five parliamentary years. He was followed by Leaders of the Opposition in the Provincial Assembly of Sindh who attended 56% sittings of Sindh Assembly. It is a combine attendance of both Mr. Haleem Adil Sheikh, MPA (PS-99, Karachi East-I, Sindh, PTI) and Ms. Rana Ansar, MPA (Reserve seat for women-154, Sindh, MQMP) who replaced Mr. Sheikh on July 26, 2023. On the other hand, Mr. Akram Khan Durrani, MPA (PK-90 Bannu-IV, KP, MMAP), Leader of the Opposition in KP Assembly attended 38% sittings of the KP Assembly. The lowest attendance was witnessed by Leaders of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly who attended only 12% sittings of the Assembly which is a combined attendance of Mr. Muhammad Hamza Shahbaz Sharif and Mr. Muhammad Sibtain Khan, MPA (PP-88 Mianwali-IV, Punjab, PTI). Mr. Hamza Shahbaz Sharif remained Leader of the Opposition from September 6, 2018 to April 15, 2022 and from October 23, 2022 to January 14, 2023. Mr. Muhammad Sibtain Khan replaced him on June 13, 2022.
Even though Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was dissolved seven months earlier than its actual term, during its 4 years and 5 months tenure, it passed 188 bills with an average of 42 bills passed per year which is the highest number of average bills passed per year when compared with other Provincial Assemblies. This is followed by Provincial Assembly of Punjab which has passed 180 bills with an average of 41 bills per year. The Provincial Assembly of Sindh has passed 149 bills with an average of 30 bills per year and Provincial Assembly of Balochistan could pass only 96 bills with an average of 19 bills per year during their 5-year terms, which is the lowest number of bills passed among the four assemblies.
Contrary to the lowest number of laws passed by the Balochistan Assembly during its 5-year term, on average, it has allocated the highest budget which is about PKR 31.1 million per member per year. During 5 years, per member budget of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were PKR 16.3 million and PKR 11.9 million per year respectively. The least budget allocation per member per year was in Provincial Assembly of Punjab which is PKR 8.5 million.
On average, the Provincial Assembly of Punjab has spent the highest 11 days in budget sessions per year and Provincial Assembly of Sindh has spent 9 days per year in its budget sessions. Provincial Assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan spent only 8 and 7 days respectively which are the least number of days spent per year in budget sessions.