Absence of PM from NA session draws opp ire

Ashraf says PM has the main responsibility to answer the questions of the people

Our Correpondent April 03, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan making a speech during a session in National Assembly. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


The opposition on Friday criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan over his prolonged absence from the sessions of the National Assembly, saying that being the leader of the house it was his responsibility to answer the questions of the people.

“The prime minister, being the leader of the house, has the main responsibility to answer the questions of the people but he chooses to attend a few calls of his choice, which bear no benefit for the country’s citizens,” former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said on the floor of the house.

The NA session was held with Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri in the chair.

The PPP leader claimed that his attendance record was better than Premier Imran’s, saying that the lower house of parliament should compare them. “Even, [former PM] Yusuf Raza Gilani’s record is better.”

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan backed Ashraf’s stance. “Indeed, Ashraf used to attend a relatively high number of NA sessions,” the state minister said. “Like Imran Khan, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also started taking a series of calls.”

However, he said, no prime minister had frequent attendances during NA sessions in the last two terms.

MNA Shahida Rahmani questioned whether the prime minister's live call programmes were recorded. “The live calls’ number is reportedly a fax number of the Election Commission,” she alleged.

To this, the state minister clarified that it is not possible for a prime minister to take live calls due to security reasons.

“The aim of the programme is to enable a facility where citizens can talk to the prime minister and the telephone numbers are indeed of the PM Office.”

MNA Javed Abbasi of the PML-N alleged that Premier Imran did not answer the questions asked during live calls and only “responds to the ones of his choice”.

He criticised the government for withholding the PML-N’s development funds.

On this, Ali Muhammad Khan said that the prime minister answered the first call as the bell rang, saying that there was no way the PM could have known beforehand whether the caller was a peddler or an MNA.

MNA Syed Hussain Tariq pointed out the lack of quorum even before speaking on the point of objection.

The deputy speaker took notice of the quorum and adjourned the session till Monday 4pm.


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