ISLAMABAD - Annoyed over the absence of ministers from the Upper House of the Parliament despite having business on the agenda related to them, Senator Col (retd) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi on Thursday asked Chairman Senate to pass strictures against the absent ministers.
Widely appreciated by the Senators irrespective of their party’s affiliation, the suggestion even forced the opposition, PML-N, to go a step further to record its protest over the issue and it (PML-N) staged a walkout from the House citing the minister’s absence as vogue tradition of the House.
However, PPP stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani, who during the last session of the House had suggested the same to the Chair, commented that things have gone far beyond passing ‘mere’ strictures and once again suggested to ban the entry of absent ministers at least for one sitting.
The issue raised its ugly head once again on Thursday at the advent of question-answer session, when Leader of the House Jehangir Badr informed the Chair that he was not aware of the whereabouts of the concerned minister, who was supposed to reply the supplementary questions related to a question asked by Senator Sughra Imam.
The question was related to the Establishment Division and it was asked if the persons having dual nationality were eligible for government service? Similarly Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani was also not present in the House though several questions on the day were related to his ministry.
Col (retd) Mashhadi, while terming it a bad parliamentary practice on behalf of ministers, said it was tantamount to derail democratic process. “Anywhere in the world, it never happens that the prestigious Parliament and its members wait for ministers and they never turn to the House.”
He said the state of affairs was not only terrible but also embarrassing for the government and its allied parties. “A government which draws wisdom from its Parliament wisely rules but here it is otherwise,” Mashhadi lamented.
Senator Rabbani said that it was not happening first time. “Mr Chairman, you have been bestowed powers to suspend absent ministers for at least one sitting,” Rabbani’s suggestion was praised by the senators who thumped desks with their hands but it went unheard as Chairman Senate did not pass any such ruling. On the occasion, Senator Tahir Mashhadi observed that Chairman Senate was too kind to the ministers.
Rabbani on the occasion recalled the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment, which had made the federal cabinet answerable to the Senate besides National Assembly.
Senator Zahid Khan of ANP said that not only the ministers but also the Prime Minister of Pakistan was reluctant to visit the House. “Even the Prime Minister is violating the spirit of 18th Constitutional Amendment by his conduct.”
Due to the absence of ministers, several questions were deferred for Friday (today) amid a direction from Chairman Senate to Leader of the House to assure the presence of ministers on next day.