ISLAMABAD  - The most important members of parliament [Leader of House and Leader of Opposition] are considered to set good trends for their respective treasury and opposition benches by showing their ‘meaningful presence’ in the parliament.

The absence and presence of both the most significant members of parliament have undoubtedly its affects on legislative business and debate and especially mood of the parliament.

The opposition parties, mainly in last one and half decade, are seen never missing any chance to target leader of house for his absence from parliament mainly during the session of national assembly.

The non-attendance of leader of house [Prime Minister Imran Khan] as well as Prime Minister of previous government’s tenure had remained the weapon for opposition to target its opponents.

Perhaps for the first in parliamentary history, the absence of current leader of opposition in the national assembly Shehbaz Sharif is first time coming into discussion in media.

Political and constitutional experts viewed that

prime minister and leader of opposition should always prefer attending the parliament[During the session of national assembly or Senate]on rest of their activities.

The Speaker had hardly taken any strict notice over long absence of lawmakers from the Parliamentary session, they said.

Former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was famous for his regular presence in the parliament.

He was found to be present in the national assembly, during the question hour, most of the time and even used to give replies to questions of the members, despite the fact that it was not mandatory for him.

“Feeling my responsibility and keeping in view the respect of parliament, I even personally replied the queries of opposition in my tenure during Question-Hour session,” former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani shared with this newspaper.

The chair of leader of house should never be empty, as prime minister should feel its main responsibility to regularly attend the sessions of national assembly and Senate, said PPP-P’s top leader.

Likewise, another former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf argued that the power of prime minister is from the building of parliament. “Iam amazed to see the disinterest of current prime minister. I have seen him [Imran Khan] not more than four to five times in the house,” commented Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, sharing his views over the importance of presence of prime minister.

Just like the absence of leader of house, the member of treasury benches have started pointing out the non-attendance of opposition leader from the parliament.

A match of political point-scoring was witnessed [in last month] between government and opposition in and outside the parliament, over the absence of Prime Minister Imran Khan and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif from parliament.

Fawad Chaudhary from treasury benches and former state Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhary had recently submitted their requests to speaker national assembly to take action against the absence opposition leader and prime minster respectively.

However, the Speaker National Assembly cannot proceed against both for their absence from the House and he cannot force him to attend the session.

Minister Fawad Chaudhary had specifically requested the Speaker to inquire from Shahbaz Sharif about his schedule for returning in the House.  However, The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2017 clearly save both the important member parliament from any action.

The available figures reveal that prime minister had never regularly attended the national assembly or Senate since assuming the charge as prime minister.

The matter regarding Prime Minister’s specific Question–Hour in the National Assembly also hangs in the balance. Interestingly, it was incomplete initiative of ruling party (PTI’ government).

Through amendment in sub-rule (4) of rule 293 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007, the government was interested to introduce a special Prime Minister Question Hour on the first Wednesday once in each session.

In a parliamentary system, the opposition is equally responsible for upholding the best interests of the people of the country.

The elected leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif is currently in London with his brother/ former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for medical treatment. For last couple of months, absence of Sharif from parliament is time and again being pointed out by the government’s members.