Ministerial no-shows end NA session early

Only the parliamentary affairs minister was in attendance


Danish Hussain October 05, 2017
PHOTO: MUDASSAR RAJA/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The lower house of parliament was almost empty on Wednesday, irking the chair, who warned that those who continue to miss house proceedings would be banned from entering the National Assembly (NA) in the future.

All the rows meant to seat federal and state ministers were empty, save for Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab Ahmad the lone representative of the cabinet present in the assembly.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed approved the adjournment of the sitting as a protest after opposition leader Khurshid Shah requested him to call it a day, adding that running the house on mere point of orders without anyone to respond on behalf of the government disgraces Parliament.

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Shah’s request was also supported by Ahmad, who advised the deputy speaker to take the issue up with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Ahmad insisted that the deputy speaker adjourns the sitting and ensure that all the ministers are present in the future.

“It is every minister’s responsibility to regularly attend NA sessions and respond appropriately to the issues related to their ministries,” he said.

Javed, after taking the consent of the parliamentary affairs minister, announced that the sitting was adjourned. Before adjourning, the deputy speaker also said that every minister should inform the NA speaker in advance if they are unable to attend the assembly for any reason.

“Absence without prior notice is a disgrace,” the deputy speaker observed. He directed the government to ensure that the ministers are present during the next session or they can risk being barred from entering.

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PPP MNA Nafeesa Shah first raise the issue saying that almost all cabinet members were seen with deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday, when he was elected as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) head. He said ministers, state minister, advisers and special assistants also accompanied Sharif during his GT Road rally.

“When it comes to the NA, no one is here to respond to legislators,” she lamented. She also said PML-N was talking about holding dialogue using the parliament’s platform, but the minister’s response to the House gives the impression that they do not really care for the session.

Shah also pointed out quorum, but a headcount by assembly staff confirmed that it was complete.

The chairpersons and members of the standing committees on national health services, regulations and coordination, defence, finance, revenue, economic affairs, statistics and privatization, parliamentary affairs, petroleum and natural resources, law and justice, science and technology, the cabinet secretariat and interprovincial coordination presented periodical reports of their respective committees.

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