KARACHI: Speaker of the Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani on Friday adjourned the session for nearly two weeks after being annoyed at the absence of most lawmakers, as hardly a dozen of legislators were present in the house of 168 lawmakers even an hour after the scheduled opening time of the session.

The session’s adjournment till April 6 irked most of the opposition parties, which accused the treasury benches of failing to fulfil their responsibility of making a quorum. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmaker Hafeezuddin, however, agreed with the speaker that it was the responsibility of both the treasury and opposition lawmakers to reach the assembly on time.

While drawing attention of the parliamentary party leader of Pakistan Peoples Party Nisar Ahmad Khuhro, who is also senior minister of education and parliamentary affairs, Speaker Durrani earlier said that at least leaders of the parliamentary parties ought to be present in the house on time. He said he was usually present in his chamber even before 10am but had to wait for lawmakers for more than an hour. He said: “We are already an hour behind the scheduled time of 10am to start the business, but hardly a dozen legislators are present on both treasury and opposition benches.

“This attitude is not appropriate and indicated as if the legislators are not taking the assembly business seriously.”

PML-F Parliamentary Party leader Nand Kumar Golkani said the house was summoned by the government and it was treasury benches responsibility to make quorum.

Speaker Durrani said it was the responsibility of all members of the house to make themselves present on time to take part in the business. Rising from his chair, he then adjourned the session till April 6 and left the house.

Later talking to the media on the steps of the assembly building, MQM parliamentary party leader Syed Sardar Ahmed said the house was not adjourned according to the rules, as neither the session was adjourned for five minutes nor did the bell was rung before adjournment of the session. He added that no member had complained against lack of quorum.

PML-F parliamentary party leader Nanad Kumar said the session was adjourned in order to save the government from embarrassment over the recent liquor deaths in Tando Mohammad Khan. He said he had submitted an adjournment motion on the subject for discussion in the house.

The PML-N newly elected member of the assembly from PS-59 Badin, Ismail Rahu, said he was on his way to the assembly when he received a message that the session had been adjourned for want of quorum. He termed it a ‘calculated move’ to stop him from being administered the oath.

Mr Khuhro agreed that the session should not have been adjourned abruptly as according to the rules, if there was no quorum, the bell should be rung for five minutes so that members present in their chambers or on the assembly premises could rush to the house.

But he contested the point of view of the PML-N elected member and said if he was so keen to take the oath he should have ensured his presence in the house at 10am. Besides, he said, the newly elected member of the PPP from Naushahro Feroze, Ziaul Hasan Lanjar, was also supposed to take oath on Friday.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2016