Pakistan's 15th National Assembly: Legislation Mill Keeps Churning Even With Change Of Guard

From having vociferous opposition to having none at all, the more the house changed its composition, the more it stayed the same

Pakistan's 15th National Assembly: Legislation Mill Keeps Churning Even With Change Of Guard
Caption: National Assembly

As President Arif Alvi signed the summary sent by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to dissolve the 15th National Assembly of Pakistan, he brought the curtain down on a Parliament that saw both sides of the aisle take turns to run the government.

The first half saw former prime minister Imran Khan run his maiden government in the centre for over three-and-half years. The remaining period saw Shehbaz Sharif take the reins of government.

While both leaders of the house contrasted in their governance, but both saw a heightened state of legislative business.

The outgoing government under the Shehbaz government faced much criticism for passing 54 bills in only two days in the last week of its tenure. 

By contrast, the PTI government passed 33 crucial bills (including voting rights for overseas Pakistanis and the use of EVMs) in a single day.
During the PTI's tenure, the house saw violent scenes with the opposition putting on a brave face and doing their best to oppose the government, tearing up their copies of the agendas and shouting at the government and surrounding the Speaker's podium for frequent protests.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle would never shy away from participating in verbal jousts in the house. 

But when the tables were turned, the government enjoyed a relatively opposition-free reign as almost all PTI members had resigned en-masse in protest after a no-confidence motion against former prime minister Imran Khan.

The no-confidence vote was a unique feature of the assembly, as it was the first in Pakistan's history to succeed. It is pertinent to note that there were two votes of confidence in the parliament during the past five years. Imran survived one but not the second.

High-frequency legislations

Whether the PTI led the house or the PDM coalition, the national legislature spent a busy five years.

Figures available with The Friday Times showed that the PTI-led government issued the most ordinances than any other government in the past. As many as 77 ordinances were issued during the three-and-a-half-year tenure of the PTI government, spanning from August 2018-April 2022. 

Moreover, the PTI government also passed some 158 bills from the lower house of parliament.

After taking over in 2018, Imran Khan's government focused on laws on accountability and governance in the country.

Some of the significant legislations passed by his government include 'The Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commissions Act 2019', designed to encourage and protect whistleblowers who report corruption and malpractice in public and private organizations.

'The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act 2017' aims to curb the practice of holding assets under fake names and prevent tax evasion. 'The Fair Trial Act 2019,' ensures a fair trial for all citizens regardless of status, gender, or religion.

'The National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance 2019,' aims to strengthen Pakistan's anti-corruption body.

Other major bills passed include The Elections (Amendment) Act, 2022; the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022; the International Institute of Science, Arts and Technology Bill, 2022; the Pakistan Global Institute Act, 2022; the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, The State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2022, The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Islamabad Healthcare Facilities Management Authority Bill, 2022,
The Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Protection of Journalists & Media Professionals Bill, 2021, The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2020, and others.

Under Shehbaz Sharif, however, some of these legislative changes were walked back while some were further strengthened.

Among major bills, the PDM government passed The Islamabad Nature Conservation and Wildlife Management Act, 2023, The National Commission for Minorities Act, 2023, The Federal Prosecution Service Act, 2023, The Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding (Amendment) Act, 2023, National Logistics Corporation Act, 2023, National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Authority in Pakistan,The Gun and Country Club Bill, 2023, The Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and books Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2023, The Protection of Journalists and media Professionals (amendment) Bill, 2023, Gas (Theft Control and Recovery) (Amendment) bill, 2023, The Zakat and Ushr (Amendment) Bill, 2023, The Apostille Bill, 2023,The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023, The Press Council of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2023, Official Secrets(Amendment) Act, 2023,The National Commission for Human Development (Amendment) Act,2023, The Pakistan Sovereign Wealth Fund Act, 2023, The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Sciences and Technology, Islamabad Amendment Act, 2023, Pakistan Air Safety Investigation Act, 2023, The National Commission for Human Development (Amendment) Act, 2023, Indus University of Science and Technology, Bill,2023, Federal Ziauddin Unniversity Act, 2023, Pakistan Nursing Council (Amendment) Bill, 2023, Pakistan Civil Aviation Act, 2023, Pakistan Airports Authority Act, 2023, The Pakistan Civil Aviation Act, 2023, The Elections (Amendment) Act, 2023, The Finance Bill, 2023, The Pakistan Ruet-e-Hilal Act, 2023, The Pakistan General Cosmetics Bill, 2023, The Export Processing Zones Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023, The NFC Institute of Engineering and Technology Multan (Amendment) Bill, 2023, The National Skills University Islamabad (Amendment) Bill, 2023, The Publication of the Holy Quran (Elimination of Printing and Recording Errors) (Amendment) Bill, 2023, The National University for Security Sciences Islamabad Bill, 2023, The Contempt of Majilis-e-Shoora (Parliament) Bill, 2023, The National Excellence Institute Bill, The Diplomatic and Consular Officers (Oath and Fees) (Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2022,
The State-Owned Enterprises (Governance and Operations) Act, 2022, The Public Private Partnership Authority (Amendment) Act, 2022, The National Highways Safety(Amendment) Act, 2022, The National Rahmatul-Lil-Aalameen Wa Khatamun Nabiyyin Authority Act, 2022 and others.