ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party yesterday rebuked the government for using the Parliament as a shield in difficult times and ignoring it when threats subside.

PPP stalwart and Opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Ministers hardly attend the Parliament sessions and took decisions without taking the elected representatives into confidence.

The PPP and other Opposition parties have long been complaining of the Prime Minister and Cabinet members absence during the Parliamentary sessions.

On a number of occasions, the chair also directed the Ministers to be regular but to no avail. Even the lawmakers presence has been very thin over the months leading to premature adjournments due to lack of quorum.

The yesterday’s session too was adjourned over quorum issue. As soon the chair gave the floor to Treasury member Qasir Ahmed Sheikh to take part in the ongoing debate over the Presidential address amid thin presence, PPP’s Imran Zafar Leghari pointed out the quorum.

Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi directed the staff to count the members present in the House and eventually, the session was adjourned.

Speaking on a point of order, Syed Khurshid Shah said that the Parliament had driven the government out of troubles whenever there was a challenge, but the rulers forgot the legislature soon after getting out of the difficult phases.

“The Prime Minister and the Ministers do not attend the sessions. Only a few Ministers are regular. They ignore the importance of the Parliament. The chair must direct them to attend the proceedings,” he said.

He said that as a custodian of the National Assembly, the Speaker has the responsibility to direct the Treasury Benches to ensure their presence in the House.

He said that irresponsible behaviour showed that the Parliament had no significance for the government.

“There will be no role of the Parliament if every matter is decided by the courts. None from the government is giving the Parliament its due respect,” he added.

He claimed that the PPP had rendered many sacrifices for democracy and Parliament, adding, all the institutions would be automatically strengthened by empowering the legislature.

The Opposition leader said that the PPP-led government has a credit and set an example for smooth transition of power to the next government in a fair and transparent manner.

Khurshid Shah said the Memo Gate Scandal was made up during the PPP’s tenure to weaken the Parliament and democracy.

“We believe in democracy and Parliamentary system in the country and today masses are asking the government to strengthen the Parliament,” he added.

He criticised the government for not convening the meeting of the Council of Common Interest despite several requests from the provinces.

He said it was clearly mentioned in the Constitution that CCI should meet at least twice a year but the government did not fulfil its Constitutional obligation.

He said that the government was reluctant to convene the meeting as they knew the provincial governments would take up several important matters.

The Opposition leader said in case any matter between provinces and the Federal government was not resolved then it should be brought to the Parliament.

He said that the country was facing several grave issues on internal and external fronts ,adding, that delay in the meeting of CCI was also creating trust deficit between the provinces and centre.

He feared the Parliament was losing people’s trust. He said that the government passed around 37 while the Opposition brought at least 57 bills in the last two and a half years.

PPP’s Dr Nafeesa Shah demanded of the government to convene CCI meeting without any further delay.

She believed the National Action Plan was not producing its results.

“The government needs to decide whether their enemy is Dr Asim Hussain or Daesh. We have to set priorities,” she asserted.

Taking part in the debate on presidential address to the Parliament, Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme Marvi Memon said that Pakistan’s economy was gradually getting stable due to prudent policies of the government.

She said, due to Four Es of the government - economy, energy, extremism and education, the GDP growth rate had increased while inflation and fiscal deficit decreased.

She said that trade deficit had decreased to 5.4 per cent and it would be further reduced to 4.3 per cent at the end of current fiscal year.

She stated that the government had cut down non-developmental expenditure by 40 per cent and foreign reserves and remittances were on the rise.

She said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor project was a game changer.

Marvi Memon said it was the project of national importance and politics should not be played on its Western route. She said that under the tax amnesty scheme the number of tax payers would be increased.

The government had initiated a number of schemes like National Health Programme, Youth Loan Programme, Laptop Scheme for youth under the PM’s Loan Scheme, she added.

She said that the government had taken steps for welfare of downtrodden and women folk, adding, that the amount for BISP had been increased from Rs 40 billion to Rs 102 billion, adding, 5.2 million women were taking benefit from this scheme.

Taking part in the debate Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf member Shafqat Mehmood said that the government should concentrate on three fundamental problems of Pakistan.

He said that population explosion was a big challenge and asked the government about steps being taken to control it.

Mehmood said that the government should invest in human resources, increase the literacy rate and skills development.

He said that water conservation was another big issue confronting the country. He warned if timely steps were not taken for water conservation it would affect the whole country.

The PTI lawmaker also called for improvement in system of governance and civil service reforms.

He demanded of the government should take Parliament into confidence on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the Pathankot terror attack.

Earlier, Chairman Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly Owais Ahmed Leghari said that Pakistan should play its role with utmost responsibility on Saudi Arabia and Iran standoff.

Four periodical reports of the Standing Committees were also presented in the National Assembly.

Chairman of the Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Pir Muhammed Aslam Bodla presented the Periodical Report of the Committee for the period from January 1 to June 30, 2015.

Chairman of the Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Mir Aamir Ali Khan Magsi came with the Periodical Report of the Committee for the period from January to June 2015.

Hafiz Abdul Kareem, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony, presented the Periodical Report of the Committee for the period from January to June 2015.

Chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatisation Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh put forward the Periodical Report of the Committee for the period from January to June 2015.

The reports were presented as required by rule 234A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2007.