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ISLAMABAD: As Finance Minister Miftah Ismail could not wind up the budget debate in the National Assembly over the past few days due to opposition’s tactics, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi directed the ruling party’s legislators on Wednesday to ensure their presence in the house during the current session, especially for smooth passing of the budget for 2018-19.

Mr Abbasi issued the directives at a parliamentary party meeting of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz held at Prime Minister House.

It has been observed that whenever the finance minister starts his speech, one of the members of opposition parties points out the quorum and due to the poor presence of members from the treasury benches the house is adjourned till next day.

Since the government is expected to table the budget in a day or two, the prime minister asked the PML-N legislators to ensure their presence in the house. Once the budget is passed, the last assembly session will conclude.

According to PML-N sources, the prime minister took party lawmakers into confidence on the developments emerging after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement about the Mumbai attacks which was blown up by the Indian media.

Last Friday, the finance minister could not make his budget speech as the session was adjourned due to lack of quorum. It was repeated in other days as well.

Prime Minister Abbasi apprised the party lawmakers of the government’s plan to table a constitutional amendment to merge the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Earlier in the day, the prime minister hosted a breakfast for members of the National Assembly. The absence of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was noticed in the breakfast which was attended by MNAs belonging to the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl.

According to sources, another parliamentary party meeting of the PML-N was expected on Thursday to discuss other important matters.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2018