Record shows lawmakers come to National Assembly only to mark attendance

Published December 28, 2021
Speaker Asad Qaiser is pictured during a session of the National Assembly. — NA Twitter/File
Speaker Asad Qaiser is pictured during a session of the National Assembly. — NA Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday adjourned without taking up any agenda item due to lack of quorum for the third consecutive day as the record of the assembly secretariat shows that lawmakers have made it a habit of leaving the Parliament House after marking their attendance.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker from Rahimyar Khan Sheikh Fayyazuddin pointed out the lack of quorum as soon as Speaker Asad Qaiser declared start of the question hour.

Mentioning the empty treasury benches, the PML-N MNA said that he was feeling ashamed while pointing out the lack of quorum for which the presence of 86 members (one-fourth) of the 342-member house is necessary.

Lack of quorum mars house proceedings for third consecutive day

The speaker told Mr Fayyazuddin that it was not appropriate to point out quorum, stating that he had come from a far-flung area only to attend the session.

The PML-N lawmaker responded that it was true that they came from far-off areas, but then while pointing towards empty treasury benches, he asked the speaker to tell the government people also to attend the session.

The speaker first suspended the proceedings till completion of quorum, but he had to later adjourn the sitting till Wednesday afternoon (tomorrow) after the government failed to ensure the presence of the required number of the members.

Earlier, the house was adjourned on a similar fashion on Dec 22 and Dec 24 because of the lack of quorum. However, interestingly, the assembly record shows that on Dec 22, a total of 219 members had marked their attendance whereas 176 lawmakers had marked their attendance on Dec 24.

Further analysis shows that as many as 89 members belonging to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its allies were present on the opening day of the current NA session on Dec 22 whereas 105 treasury members marked their attendance on Dec 24 and the numbers on both the days were sufficient to complete the quorum.

The opposition members have made it a practice to stage a walkout from the house after pointing out quorum. A majority of the members of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), however, were not present in the assembly on Monday as they were busy in the ceremonies arranged by the party to mark the 14th death anniversary of former prime miniser Benazir Bhutto.

Meanwhile, in a written reply to a question asked by PML-N’s Sheikh Rohale Asghar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi informed the National Assembly that construction of the Gwadar Eastbay Expressway would be completed by April 11, 2022, with a total cost of Rs17.37 billion.

The construction work on the 19.4-kilometre expressway began on October 12, 2017. The minister said that China Communications and Construction Company was the contractor of the project.

In response to another question asked by Nuzhat Pathan of the PTI, Railways Minister Azam Swati told the assembly that a total of 442 train accidents had occurred since the PTI came to power in August 2018 to November 30.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2021

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