LAHORE - It was a private members day, but no private business was done at all. Two private bills and five resolutions of public interest knuckled under an inaccurate House.

This was very unusual though, but perhaps they had got some more urgent business to do at home or elsewhere. Assembly was giving a deserted look even at the start of the session at 11:35 am.

Leader of the Opposition, Mian Mehmoodur Rashid could not make it to the Assembly on Tuesday as he was busy making arrangements for KPK Chief Minister, Pervaiz Khattack’s visit to Lahore.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah arrived quite late in the House. He was also busy attending important meetings. 

While Monday is really hard for most of us after a lazy week-end, one gets to the routine by Tuesday. And many would also bunk off early on Friday, for understandable reasons.

But the fact that most of the lawmakers skipped off on the second day of the week was hard to fathom.

Some may say the legislators coming from far flung areas have to rush to different departments to get their works done before the closing time.

This is one of the main reasons behind lack of quorum and the attendance will improve if the session is held in the afternoon, they stated.

Assembly’s Chief Whip, Rana Muhammad Arshad passed the buck on the Opposition stating it was Opposition’s responsibility to keep the quorum on Private Members day and on other days during the question hour.

The government is responsible for the quorum only at the time of legislation, he says.

The joint opposition in the Punjab Assembly has 51 members only in a House of 371. The rest belong to the ruling party.

When will they make it their own business? It is a question many ask whenever the lawmakers don’t pay heed to the Assembly business, especially on the Private Members day.

But the Punjab legislature has a history of bulldozing the private business no matter how important it may be. Not a single private bill has sailed through the present Assembly which is going to complete its five-year term next year. Assembly Secretariat received around two dozen notices for private bills in the last over three and half years, but none found a place on the agenda on varying pretexts.

Two private bills introduced in the House on prohibition of child marriage and sheesha-smoking were referred to the concerned House Committees for recommendations but they never returned them to the Assembly.

The movers are always told that the govt intended to bring its own legislation on the subject.

Two lawmakers from the Opposition yesterday smelled a conspiracy against them as their Assembly business was being secretly thrown into the list of un-starred questions.

Under the Assembly rules of procedure, answers to the starred questions are taken up by the House for discussion while those of un-starred ones are only made available to the members and they are not debatable.

PTI’s Mian Aslam Iqbal had a heated argument with Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal on the issue. He complained that most of his questions pertaining to various departments were being marked as un-starred to avoid discussion on the answers received from the departments.

PML-Q’s Amir Sultan Cheema also had a similar grievance.

Speaker told them it was his discretion under the rules to treat some of the questions as ‘starred’ and some as ‘un-starred’. Nonetheless, the chair assured the two members of fair treatment in future.