ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly of Pakistan, which is the lower house of the parliament, resumed its session after a month-long lull on Monday to discuss coronavirus situation in the country after parliamentary leaders from various political factions reached a consensus on necessary safety measures and rules of procedure.
The state television showed large number of parliamentarians attending the session wearing face masks and exercising social distancing.
With COVID-19 as the only article on today’s agenda, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood gave a policy statement and briefed lawmakers about government’s step to curb the spread of coronvirus.
The legislators from the opposition benches will share their suggestions and recommendations regarding the disease trying to forge national consensus on the issue.
The last parliamentary session on Mar 13 was abruptly prorogued over coronavirus fears raised by legislatures after which all parliamentary proceedings and holding of the standing committees was suspended for the first time in the country’s 72-year history.
Earlier, the speaker of the assembly, Asad Qaiser, formed a committee to look into the possibility of holding an online session amid the growing number of COVID-19 infections in Pakistan.
However, most of the opposition parties had rejected the idea of a virtual meeting, questioning why could the legislature not convene a session when the other two organs of state – the executive and judiciary – were continuing their duties amid the pandemic.
Last week, Qaiser and his two children tested positive for coronavirus raising fears of probably having infected other high officials whom he met with earlier in May.
However, the speaker says he is under “self-quarantine.”
Pakistan’s virus tally soared to 30,941 on Monday with 1,476 new cases reported within 24 hours and the death toll reaching 667.