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Serious looking Mr Speaker yet to find feet in his job

Published Sep 20, 2013 07:25am


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Sardar Ayaz Sadiq being administered the oath of office from predecessor Dr Fehmida Mirza. — File photo
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq being administered the oath of office from predecessor Dr Fehmida Mirza. — File photo

GIVEN that he had served two consecutive terms as member of the National Assembly, a lot better was expected from Ayaz Sadiq when he was elected as Speaker of the lower house of our parliament in his current third term.

Alas, regular parliamentary reporters find the active lawmaker of the past rather wanting in his new, demanding role.

“His strengths and capabilities are still around him but somehow he looks, at times, lost how to handle the responsibilities of his high political office,” a veteran journalist remarked.

Is it that the otherwise bright politician is trying to get a firm footing before getting into his elements in a job that he had not been groomed for? After all, the leadership of the PML-N must have seen the talent in him to install him in the prestigious job that ranks quite high in the institutional hierarchy of the state.

For now, the road to earn name and fame looks arduous for him. Even small pinpricks unsettle him.

On Tuesday, he almost panicked when he ordered the proceedings to start and found the official Qari, who recites Holy Quran to do that, missing. In the confusion, the replacement he could think of was the deputy sergeant-at-arms of the house – an event that echoed uncharitable terms in hall and corridors of the august house for days.

But, perhaps, the words of none other than his own party’s leader, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, would have hurt the speaker most. “This is the first time I have seen opening of the house when there is no official Qari for recitation,” said the interior minister who has been returning to the National Assembly ever since 1985.

What makes the opposition howl too often, however, is a more serious matter – the too frequent absence of the ministers from the assembly. Chaudhry Nisar accepted so much this week, promising the protesting opposition benches to take up the issue with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after he returns from Turkey.

Lt Gen (retired) Abdul Qadir Baloch, federal minister for states and frontier regions, however, charged that the National Assembly Secretariat “deliberately placed the questions addressed to those ministers either on leave or out of the country for answer to let down the speaker and the government”.

His next words sounded harsh when he asked Speaker Sadiq to put his “own house in order”.

General Qadir reminded all that knowing that the federal minister for finance and the state minister for commerce were part of the PM’s delegation visiting Turkey, the secretariat listed the questions addressed to the two ministers for answer “just to embarrass the government.”

It is to the credit of the speaker that he refused to buy the tack, and said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure presence of the ministers or their nominees to answer questions.

However, despite the insistence of opposition members, he refused to pass a ruling against the absent ministers.

In contrast, his predecessor, Dr Fehmida Mirza, and her deputy Faisal Karim Kundi, often gave strong rulings against the ministers of their own party for not showing up and ensuring presence of the staff of their respective ministries in the house.

Things certainly have not been smooth at the administration level. Speaker Sadiq had promised on taking the office a number of reforms to improve the working of the secretariat. That has not happened in the symbolic first 100 days and he has faltered on many counts.

In the previous assembly, he and his party lawmakers used to condemn “the culture of extensions”. But he has failed to honour his declaration of “no more extensions” on taking up office.

Secretary Karamat Hussain Niazi, who is continuing on extension since 2006, is a glaring example of that. So is the special secretary Munawar Abbas and a number of other officers of the NA secretariat. Reforms that Speaker Sadiq promised are seen nowhere.

More importantly, the recommendations of a parliamentary committee on the controversial housing society for employees of the secretariat are awaiting Mr Speaker’s action.

A parliamentary committee had, in January 2011, endorsed a set of punishments for the government officials and private realtors found involved in cheating over 3,000 members of the National Assembly Employees Cooperative Housing Society. It is a case of embezzlement of about Rs500 million in cash and possession of over 1,000 kanals of land from official records.

A couple of well-connected employees of the National Assembly were suspects in the scam. But the speaker is silent on the issue. May be Mr Speaker stands up for action soon.


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Comments (10) Closed

Syed Ghayyur Tirmazi Sep 20, 2013 11:25am

Contrary to the said write-up, the daily administrative affairs and running of the house is job of the bureaucracy. The speaker is a leader of the house who works and performs once he has full support from the bureaucracy. Earlier PPP was the target of bureaucracy who never wanted PPP to work and perform well and that's why PPP was always considered as anti establishment party. However, the situation is changed now. Under the co-chairpersonship of Mr. Zardari, PPP now is considered as blue eyed baby of establishment and PML - N is known as anti establishment party.

What our Bureaucracy is doing these days is same treatment with PML - N which they have been doing with PPP earlier. The staff of assembly secretariat is yet to prove its loyalty to its new bosses. It is a known fact to everyone in Islamabad that assembly secretariat is creating problems and hurdles in the daily cores of government. Mr. Ayaz Sadiq is a refined politician and among a few of those who has a clear political vision and are clean of any bribe.

At times, when Mr. Sadiq had tried to straighten the affairs, the part of this bureaucracy had leaked stories to media which were baseless but anyhow, were published on front pages. Of particularly one story was totally baseless & false in which a female secretary had accused speaker for threatening her to " ?? ?? ?? ???? ??? ??". In fact, the speaker had ordered the female secretary to send the complete report of previous secretary for Power Nargas Sethi of around 260 pages in which load management flaws were highlighted and disciplinary actions were recommended against some bureaucrats for criminal negligence. Instead this female secretary sent only 2 pages summary of this report to concerned authorities. On this speaker had ordered to his staff for initiate an inquiry via FIA for why his instructions were not completely followed and who was responsible of saving the people against whom disciplinary inquiry was ordered.

However, what happened was that the same female secretary contacted a senior journalist and told her full lies and get the wrong story published in a largely circulated Urdu daily. In such a circumstances how a gentleman can perform his duties. Such baseless and false media reports could create an unnecessary pressure on speaker and other office bearers.

This same story is also a baseless story like the same. Senior journalists should avoid writing such stories which could create wrong impression

Anees Sep 20, 2013 12:34pm

He was made the speaker as a reward for beating Imran. Otherwise, there were people more capable than him.

Adnan Ahmed Sep 20, 2013 06:40pm

I am not a PML-N supporter, but to be fair we must give Mr. Sardar Ayaz Sadiq some time to accurately judge his performance. This is a rather inconsequential hiccup & does not merit anything more.

He is a good person and I'm confident he will do well by the time things are said and done.

Hamid Wazir Sep 20, 2013 08:05pm

@Syed Ghayyur Tirmazi: If speaker could not rein the bureaucracy he should better to call it a day because his position is of great importance and prestige.

noman Sep 20, 2013 09:07pm

@Syed Ghayyur Tirmazi: the so-called mr. clean is now living on stay order obtained from LHC on a/c of acceptance of Imran's petition by election tribunal against acceptance of proof of rigging on the Lahore seat from where this guy 'won' against him.

ahsan butt Sep 21, 2013 12:24am

this house once had a speaker who was abbreviated YRG in secret communications for his bad activities (one can use word "crimes" here).

Omer Sep 21, 2013 02:21am

@Anees: Who says he actually beat Iran khan fair and sqaure!

decline Sep 21, 2013 07:29am

To me, this man does not deserve to hold such a high position (NA Speaker). But with people like Raja Pervez Ashraf and Nawaz Sharif holding the august office of PM, it is hardly surprising that likes of A. Sadiq will be Speakers of NA. What a decline this country is seeing.

Wasim Sep 21, 2013 07:38am

When the National Assembly could not protect their own employees from embazlement then imagine what must be happening to the rest of the country?

Sultan Khan Sep 21, 2013 11:51am

Any Muslim can recite the verses from the Holy Quraan, even the speaker himself. All the unnecessary posts like Qari of the National Assembly, so called President of the country and Chairman Joint chiefs of staff committee should be abolished and funds saved be diverted towards the poor.