A wave of disinterest swept through the National Assembly on Thursday with many members absenting themselves and opting instead to spend time in their constituencies ahead of elections. Several items of the agenda items were deferred as a result.
The fourth day of the 47th session of the lower house ended when no one, amongst the handful MPs who were less than the required number for quorum (86), expressed their desire to resume debate on the country’s law and order situation.
The house had resumed debate on Monday, the opening day of the session, and the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) fired salvos at the government over the grisly killings in Karachi. But there was no one to speak on the subject on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Interestingly, Interior Minister Rehman Malik who had moved a motion for a debate in the house did not attend any of the four sittings of the ongoing session. Similarly, Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan did not turn up even once.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was clearly happy after the Swiss letter saga as he made a triumphal first appearance in the house. And instead of taking his seat and announcing a policy statement on the steps taken by the government to address lawlessness in Karachi and Balochistan, he preferred to sit on the backbenches, mingling with his colleagues. His fellow MPs continued to bombard him with their applications for approval.
In the absence of both the speaker and the deputy speaker, Public Accounts Committee chairperson Yasmeen Rehman appealed to her colleagues in the house to maintain decorum but nothing changed till the PM’s departure.
Separately, the head of the standing committee on law and justice, Begum Nasim Akhtar Chaudhry, presented a report on the bill to validate acts, orders and other instruments, etc, issued from April 26, 2012 to June 19, 2012.
The bill was moved in order to provide legal cover to the orders passed by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to avoid adverse consequences and legal complications.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2012.