Three Months After Polls, Is A Controversial Parliament All But Dead?

National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has asked the minister for parliamentary affairs and members of treasury benches to take urgent action to avoid creating such a situation in the House

Three Months After Polls, Is A Controversial Parliament All But Dead?

It has been a little over three months since the February 2024 general elections, but the contentious Parliament — whose fate continues to hang in the balance — appears to have turned on its side and all but given up hope.

Lawmakers from the ruling coalition have been disinterested in the proceedings of the lower House of Parliament, and the House has been struggling to maintain the required quorum.

The opposition has pointed out the empty benches in the front rows several times during the proceedings of the House. The unavailability of concerned ministers to answer the queries posed during the proceedings has become a growing trend for almost every session.

The government has been facing an embarassment due to the unavailability of its ministers in the House to answer questions related to their relevant ministries. So much so, it has prompted the National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to ask the minister for parliamentary affairs to take urgent action to avoid creating such a situation in the House.

During Thursday's proceedings of the National Assembly, the treasury benches surprisingly joined hands with the opposition to slam the government for the lack of interest its ministers have shown towards affairs of the House — primarily presenting themselves to be held accountable by the public and answering questions posed by public representatives, basically honouring and upholding everything about democratic principles such as government of the people for the people and by the people. 

During the session, a question related to the activities of the interior ministry and measures taken by the government to control the rising scourge of terrorism in the country had been posed. However, the situation in the House turned bizarre when the concerned minister and other parliamentary secretaries could not furnish convincing replies on the simple and indelicate question.

Frustrated, a senior member of the treasury benches, Aijaz Jhakrani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), slammed the government for not taking parliamentary affairs seriously.

"Isn't it a joke? The concerned ministers are often not available in the Parliament," he complained, adding, "How can the parliament run in this scenario."

Jhakrani asked the speaker to take notice of this situation. 

Members of the opposition also played their part in mocking the situation. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Omar Ayub said that he has pointed out this problem time and again in the House but to little avail.

National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, while agreeing that this was a problem of serious concern, asked the treasury benches to address this issue as it would be inappropriate to run parliamentary affairs in such a scenario.

An angry Sadiq then suspended further proceedings of the House and called some senior lawmakers for a meeting in his chamber.

It may also be noted here that the attendance/presence of the Leader of the House, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has remained very low since the House was elected.

Political observers said that treasury benches have often faced difficulty running proceedings due to the lack of the required quorum in the House. 

In such a situation, the opposition has a tool to disrupt proceedings at any time to embarrass the government.