ISLAMABAD: The Nat­ional Assembly on Monday could not conduct its business due to a lack of quorum. Pointed out by a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the complaint of low attendance of members — especially those on the treasury benches — continues to haunt the lower house of parliament.

The proceedings of the house started at 3.30pm following recitation of verses from the Holy Quran.

Khawaja Sohail Mansoor of the MQM wanted to speak about the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) right after the session started. However, speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq asked him to speak after the completion of ‘question-hour.’ The MQM member warned that he would point out the quorum if he was not allowed to speak. On this, the speaker asked him to point out the quorum and not to try to speak on the floor of the house.

The member continued his speech but the speaker did not allow him and again insisted that Mr Mansoor point out the quorum.

“You just point out the quorum and nothing else,” the speaker said several times to the MQM member as the latter was trying to make his point.

Later, the proceedings were suspended for half an hour as the count was made and it turned out that the attendance of the members was below the required minimum of 87 to run the house.

After almost an hour the speaker presided over the session again, but the quorum remained incomplete. Mr Sadiq adjourned the house till Tuesday morning.

According to media reports, the FIA has alleged that the MQM’s charity wing, Khidmat-i-Khalq Foundation (KKF), was being used as a front organisation for the transfer of illegal money to Altaf Hussain — the party’s founder — in London.

The FIA has also named Karachi’s Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra, Senator Babar Ghauri, Khawaja Sohail Mansoor, Khawaja Rehan and Senator Ahmed Ali as co-suspects in the FIR, claiming that funds from the bank accounts of the KKF had been illegally transferred to their accounts.

Prominent members of the ruling party that were present in the session on Monday included: former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Law Minister Chaudhry Bashir Virk, Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Pirzada, Minister of State for Finance Rana Afzal, Minister of State for Interior Tallal Chaudhry, and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed among others.

Some of the opposition members have said that the government intends to prolong the session till the last day of its five-year term ending May 31.

The National Assembly has witnessed frequent complaints of an incomplete quorum. A fact pointed out several times by Speaker Sadiq.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2018

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