ISLAMABAD: In a rare show of displeasure over the continuous absence of government functionaries in the National Assembly, Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Tuesday staged a walkout from the house and vowed to remain on protest till Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi gives an assurance that the ministers and the bureaucracy would mend their ways.

“I am staging a walkout and will not chair the house till the assurance of the prime minister,” the speaker said after taking a serious notice of the absence of Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of State for Interior Talal Chaudhry and Interior Secretary Arshad Mirza in the house despite the fact that most of the agenda related to the interior ministry.

It was not for the first time when Speaker Sadiq expressed dissatisfaction over the attitude of the ministers and senior bureaucrats for not attending proceedings of the house.

Ayaz Sadiq says he will continue his protest until the PM ensures presence of ministers, bureaucrats in house

“I will come to my office every day but will not chair the house in protest,” he said.

Opposition party leaders, especially from Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), had moved a calling attention notice alleging that security forces were treating Pakhtuns as though they were criminals.

On this, the speaker asked if the interior secretary, parliamentary secretary interior, state minister and the minister were present in the house.

“It is quite ironic that if the minister is not present he should have been replaced by the federal secretary, parliamentary secretary or the minister of state to reply questions of the members,” he added.

The speaker said it was unfair that the ministers and secretaries did not give due importance to parliament. “I cannot tolerate this attitude anymore,” he said before leaving the house.

Interestingly, former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani had also recently set a similar example when he boycotted the house proceedings to register his protest against absence of government functionaries.

Soon after the speaker’s departure, members from the PTI also staged a walkout over the absence of the interior minister and secretary. “We are also leaving the house as no one is here to listen to our concerns,” said PTI parliamentary leader Dr Shireen Mazari.

Shortly, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal turned up and Deputy Speaker Murtaza Abbasi asked Sahibzada Tariqullah of JUI-F and Ijaz Jakhrani to call the PTI MNAs and urged them to return to the house as interior minister had arrived.

On this, the PTI members returned and the interior minister assured them that there was no such disparity in the treatment of Pakhtuns and other citizens by security forces.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2018

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