ISLAMABAD: It will be after a long wait that legislators belonging to the ruling PML-N will meet their prime minister when they gather at the parliamentary group’s meeting before the start of the National Assembly session on Monday.
But the venue of the meeting, the prime minister’s office and not the parliament house, suggests that the much-awaited participation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the assembly proceedings is still uncertain.
PML-N lawmakers in background interviews said they did not remember exactly when Mr Sharif had last chaired a meeting of the party legislators who elected him as the leader of house on June 5 last year.
The ruling party members are also unsure whether they would be allowed to interact with the prime minister in Monday’s meeting or it would be a one-sided affair and they would be returning to parliament after hearing a sermon from the leader of their party.
All meetings of PML-N parliamentary group held from time to time during the National Assembly sessions over the past few months were presided over by senior party leader and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
Mr Sharif has been under criticism from the opposition and media circles for his constant absence from the parliament since his election as the leader of house.
“The prime minister will attend the assembly session whenever he will feel it is necessary,” federal Minister for Information Pervez Rasheed said.
When his attention was drawn to the opposition’s demand that the prime minister should come to parliament to make a policy statement on the security situation in the country, he said: “It is up to the prime minister to decide about the timing of releasing a policy statement on any issue.”
The minister, who is also official spokesman for the federal government, said if the prime minister did not attend sessions of the parliament it did not mean that he was doing nothing. “If he is not in the assembly, then definitely he will be doing something important for the country and the nation,” he added.In an obvious reference to the two former prime ministers of PPP, who regularly attended the assembly sessions, Mr Rasheed said the performance of the previous government proved that a prime minister’s mere attendance at the house proceedings would serve no purpose. He said ministers and members on the treasury benches were always present in the parliament to respond to queries and issues raised by lawmakers.
Mr Rasheed said the current security situation, state of economy and energy crisis would be on the top of the agenda of the Monday’s meeting. The prime minister will brief PML-N members about the steps being taken by the government to bring the country out of the morass it is stuck into.
He dispelled the impression that the meeting would be a one-sided affair, saying members would be given the opportunity to have an interaction with Mr Sharif. “All our meetings are always interactive,” he claimed.
But a PML-N MNA said the members were allowed to ask any question or offer suggestions in such meetings but they did not talk about issues that could offend the party boss. “Every one wants to appease the leadership,” he said.