ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has cancelled all the meetings of the house committees till further order as part of the measures taken by the government to fight coronavirus in the country.
This was announced by a spokesman for the National Assembly Secretariat here on Saturday, a day after the National Security Committee (NSC), headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, took a number of decisions, including closure of educational institutions and bar on all kinds of public gatherings for the next three weeks.
It is worth mentioning that Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had cancelled the meetings of all the standing and functional committee on Friday even before the meeting of the NSC.
The spokesman for the NA Secretariat stated that notices had been issued regarding the cancellation of all the meetings for an indefinite period as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Interestingly, the official websites of the two secretariats have not been updated till filing of this report on Saturday night and according to them, most of the meetings are still scheduled to be held on time.
The speaker’s decision has affected the meetings of 25 committees that were scheduled be held from March 16 to March 31. Similarly, the Senate chairman had cancelled meetings of 18 various committees which were scheduled to be held between March 16 and 26.
The decision to cancel the NA committees meetings will definitely affect the working of the parliament since more than 150 government and private member’s bills are pending before these committees which had been constituted very late by the speaker due to a row between the government and the opposition over the nomination of the Opposition Leader and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif as chairman of the all-powerful Public Accounts Committee.
Meanwhile, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), the civic body responsible for the maintenance of the Parliament House has been directed to initiate immediate measures in order to protect Parliament House from the coronavirus.
The CDA had been directed to complete the fumigation, cleaning and washing exercise positively by today (Sunday).
Rise in airfare
According to another handout issued by the National Assembly Secretariat, Speaker Asad Qaiser called federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan and expressed his deep concern over the sudden raise of airfares of flights intended for Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia.
The speaker said the aviation ministry should take necessary measures before expiring of the 72-hour deadline set by the Saudi government for the return of their own nationals and other Iqama holders.
The speaker said no one should be allowed to extort money from anyone at this juncture of time. He said airlines were overcharging rather extorting money from the Pakistanis intending for Saudi Arabia. He asked the minister for aviation to immediately address that issue.
Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2020