ISLAMABAD: Friday was yet another day of government’s indifference towards parliamentary business, as no answers were submitted to more than a dozen queries of lawmakers lying pending in the National Assembly for the past many sessions.
The speaker was so annoyed at the absence of senior interior ministry officials that at one stage he directed the joint secretary and a section officer of the ministry to leave the gallery and summon the interior secretary himself within five minutes.
It was not the first time that the government was strongly criticised for not taking the parliament’s business seriously. In recent months, the opposition has been strongly criticising the treasury benches for absence of ministers in the lower house of parliament or unsatisfactory answers.
State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry informed the House that some answers were sought from the provinces, which was why he could not furnish answers on Friday. But the Speaker dismissed the argument saying that most of the questions had nothing to do with the provinces.
“I cannot run the house in these conditions,” Sadiq told the state minister. He said that lawmakers worked hard to prepare their questions, but the ministries failed to respond. However, the Question Hour continued, with State Minister Chaudhry giving replies.
Dr Nafisa Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) raised a question about the morale of the Islamabad police after the singing of agreement by the government with the participants of a sit-in on Faizabad Interchange, last month.
Responding to the query, Chaudhry informed the House that various steps had been taken to improve the performance of Islamabad police. He said that modern reporting rooms had been established at 10 police stations in the federal capital.
Chaudhry said the best medical treatment was being provided to officials of the law-enforcement agencies who got injured during the sit-in in Islamabad by a religious group. If needed, he said, the government would send them abroad for treatment.
During the day, the House also took up a call-attention notice moved by Shakila Lukman regarding non-allotment of government residential accommodations to the employees of the National Assembly and the Senate secretariats.
In reply, Minister for Postal Services Maulana Amir Zaman said that a summary had been moved for the allotment of government residential accommodations to the employees of all constitutional bodies, including the National Assembly and the Senate secretariats.
Meanwhile, when treasury lawmaker Farhana Qamar tabled ‘The Health Services Academy (Restructuring) Bill, 2017’ in the House, Dr Nafisa Shah asked the chair to take up another business. However, Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi insisted on continuing with the same bill.
This invited Dr Shazia Sobia to point out quorum which led to headcount, and the sitting was adjourned on account of lack of quorum. The House will now meet on Monday.
The health services bill seeks degree-awarding institute status for the Heath Service Academy (HSA) – a policy research institute offering doctoral programmes, postgraduate and Master’s in various disciplines of public health.