Subdued signals from Parliament

THE National Assembly, on Thursday, adopted both the Constitutional Amendment relating to delimitation of constituencies requiring presence of two-thirds of the total membership of the House but the Senate could not take up the bill in question despite being on its agenda on Friday. Less than half (41) of the members made it to the House and those absenting themselves included Senators from PML(N) itself, PPP, MQM, PML(Q), JUI(F) and FATA and their absence effectively delayed passage of the crucial amendment bill.
Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq has rightly pointed out that it was because of the convening of the House on the short notice that the members could not attend the session on Friday. Session for Friday was called on Thursday and it is understood that members have their own engagements and it has also been a practice that Friday’s session is attended by small number of members in both houses as majority proceeds to their hometowns. However, this was vitally important amendment and at least members of the ruling party should have ensured their presence at all costs. Same was the situation in the Lower House as well where quorum forced the chair to adjourn the session without disposing of the agenda items including discussions on President’s address to the joint session of Parliament. Even relevant Ministers were not present to respond to queries and calling attention notices by members and one such notice on availability of less water for crops had to be deferred for the same reason. This state of affairs is unfortunate and regrettable and should be a source of concern not just for the Government but also for other parties as well that claims to be firm believer in democracy and supremacy of Parliament. Supremacy comes with performance and delivery and record of Parliament, especially the Lower House, is not enviable in this regard where quorum has remained a perennial issue mainly because of lack of commitment on behalf of party heads as neither Mian Nawaz Sharif nor Imran Khan regularly attended sittings of the NA. The ruling party should be extra-careful these days as frantic efforts are being made to create rifts and cause desertions in the party but lessons have still not been learnt. Who will discipline parliamentarians?

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