Govt again fails to maintain quorum in NA

Updated December 14, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was left red-faced on Wednesday when it failed to muster the presence of the minimum number of lawmakers required to run a session of the National Assembly, amid an opposition boycott over the inordinate delay in presenting the Fata reforms bill.

The present government has been plagued by a lack of quorum for most of its term, and this was the third time in the current (50th session) alone that the lower house was adjourned because the ruling party was unable to muster the 86 members required to keep the house in order.

Wednesday’s proceedings lasted less than 30 minutes, and question hour was derailed by the absence of opposition members, who had fielded most of the queries. When a few government members tried to raise the issue of striking sugarcane farmers on the floor of the house, Fata MNA Shahji Gul Afridi pointed out a lack of quorum.

This forced Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to temporarily suspend proceedings until quorum could be completed. Over the next 45 minutes, the ruling party tried its best to call lawmakers to the house, and one by one, the treasury benches began to fill.

But despite their best efforts, the government could not reach the required number in time, forcing Deputy Speaker Murtaza Abbasi to adjourn proceedings until Thursday (today).

Speaking to the media in his chambers, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah assailed the government for its inability to run the business of the house.

He held former prime minister Nawaz Sharif responsible for the trend, saying that the record proved that the government was unable to maintain quorum even while he was in office.

The Pakistan Peoples Party leader said the government was trying to blame the opposition for its own shortcomings, adding that the treasury benches were least interested in the working of parliament these days.

He was hopeful that Friday’s meeting between the prime minister and parliamentary leaders would lead to a breakthrough, both on the pending Fata legislation, as well as the question of fresh delimitations.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2017