Islamabad: Pakistan's Parliament made history on Friday by becoming the first National Assembly in the country's history to complete a full term of five years, with the conclusion of the House's 50th session, setting the stage for the holding of elections. "The session that started on February 18, 2013 has prorogued on completion of its business," Yasmeen Rehman, a lawmaker for the ruling Pakistan People's Party, read out from a letter from President Asif Ali Zardari.
Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Shah congratulated parliamentarians on the completion of the National Assembly's five-year constitutional term and said the credit for the passage of 138 bills by the lower house of Parliament goes to parliamentarians from the treasury and opposition benches.
Rehman, who was chairing the session in the absence of Speaker Fehmida Mirza, said, "I pray that Allah gives us success and that democracy should continue and the next Parliament should also complete its term." However, only a handful of lawmakers attended the last session of the 13th National Assembly, which was largely devoted to farewell speeches.
Pakistan is due to go to the polls to elect a new Parliament sometime in May, and the election will mark the first time in the country's history that power will be transferred from one democratically elected government to another.
The PPP and main opposition PML-N are currently conducting negotiations on installing a caretaker administration to oversee the polls. Listing the achievements of the outgoing National Assembly, Shah said its historic decisions included the grant of autonomy to the provinces, restoration of the 1973 Constitution and the National Finance Commission awards.
The assembly laid guidelines for an independent foreign policy and President Zardari had surrendered all his powers to the Parliament, he said. However, he noted that thousands of lives were lost to a wave of terrorism and urged politicians to wage a 'jihad' against the menace.