ISLAMABAD: Tired of the habitual absence of senior bureaucrats from the house during question hour and legislative business, the speaker of the National Assembly on Monday had a go at top civil servants for taking the session for granted besides announcing in-house punishment.
This was not for the first time during the past four-and-a-half years that the absence of top bureaucrats had invited the ire of the speaker, but their absence was magnified by the fact that the chair had been grilling top CADD and Petroleum Ministry officials for more than one hour and despite directives for the bureaucrats to come to the house, they remained absent.
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On the calling attention notice of Sahibzada Yaqub of JI regarding irregularities in the distribution and installation of gas meters in Malakand Division, the chair called on the petroleum secretary. After being informed that the secretary was not in attendance, the speaker issued directives for him to get to Parliament immediately.
Afterwards, he also inquired about the CADD secretary, eventually asking that if not the secretary, did an additional secretary or even a clerk of the ministry bother to show up.
“I will make both of them sit here until midnight,” a disappointed Sadiq stated.
CADD Minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry responded that the CADD secretary was on leave, to which the speaker said, “We should put their pictures on chairs in the gallery.”
Parliamentary leader of JI Sahibzada Tariqullah then said, “It is good to see the speaker get angry for the first time in four years.”
When the top officials could not make to the House despite his harsh directives, the speaker went on to tell Choudhry that he would not allow the minister to discuss the CDA ordinance till the officials are in attendance.
When one of the officials got to the house, the speaker said, “You can’t walk in with a bottle of water. Don’t you know the norms of the House?”
Later, the opposition leader said, “Even the bottle bearer has gone out of the House.”
The federal minister for the parliamentary affairs Shaikh Aftab attempted to calm down the chair, but the speaker said everyone may leave, but he would stay in the House until midnight.
When an additional secretary arrived, the speaker asked parliamentarians to give him an ovation before telling him to take his hands out of his pockets.
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Over an hour later, when the officials were all present in the House, Sadiq issued directives to them to be present on Tuesday (today) and the day after till the conclusion of the sessions on both days. He said these officials would mark their presence in the House and will also give thumb impressions so that the same could be verified by NADRA.
“You will not leave the House without my permission,” he said while explaining that anyone could fraudulently mark attendance on their behalf.
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