LAHORE -  The Treasury was happy at the prospect of having a smooth sailing yesterday since the Opposition had announced complete boycott of the proceedings. It was not expecting anybody pointing out lack of quorum which has become a big issue for the government these days.

But their excitement proved short-lived, and the govt now might be thinking of making amendments in the Assembly rules of procedure after Thursday’s experience.

Despite their announcement to observe complete boycott of the Assembly proceedings, the House saw the PTI lawmakers still coming to the chamber for few seconds only to tell the chair that he was conducting the proceedings without quorum.

Though the rules do allow, but the Parliamentary traditions don’t allow the members to point out quorum during the question hour.

Similarly, an Opposition observing complete boycott of the proceedings is not expected of disturbing the House proceedings as per the Assembly traditions.

But as they state that everything is fair in love and war, the PTI-led Opposition was in no mood to care about anything. Petty politics prevailed over the Parliamentary traditions. Thank God, they did not punch any of their political opponents as done by one of their party colleagues outside the National Assembly yesterday. 

Immediately after start of the question, Khurram Shahzad, a PTI member from Faisalabad, appeared in the House out of the blue.

“Mr. Speaker! The House is not in quorum.”, he uttered and left the House with as much haste as he could. This came as a bolt from the blue for the Treasury that was not mentally prepared for such an eventuality, especially when the Opposition had announced to boycott the session.

The Speaker had no option but to order the count. As the required legislators were not present, he had to adjourn the House for 20 minutes. But it took the Treasury around an hour to complete the quorum.

But the quorum broke again when the House took up adjournment motions.

PTI’s Asif Mehmood disturbed the calm atmosphere of the House by his quite entry. But this time, the Treasury was ‘armed to the teeth’ to repulse the attack in few minutes. The House was in quorum again. 

How the Treasury manages to gather the required number of members is an interesting story to tell. The worthy Chief Minister has deployed at least five to six officers from his Secretariat to perform duty at the Assembly entrance. Whenever the issue of quorum arises, theses officers are seen calling the PML-N members from their cell phones.

It is, infact, the duty of Assembly Chief Whip to maintain the quorum. But who would listen to the poor Rana Arshad, a man without any powers to get their works done.

The civil officers, on the other hand, are in a position to return the favour. Holding small chits and applications in their hands, the PML-N lawmakers are seen surrounding these officers at the exit point. And they are duly obliged for coming to the Assembly on their call.

The joint Opposition in the Punjab Assembly had announced a complete boycott of the present session accusing the Speaker of stonewalling on their issues of concern.

The Opposition members believe their Assembly business was being ‘killed’ at the initial stage before it could reach the Assembly floor.

They have also accused the Speaker of being highly biased in favour of the Treasury as they would seldom get time to speak inside the House on public issues.

On Wednesday, Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal had given a shut up call to PTI member Mian Aslam Iqbal who had a heated argument with him on the quorum issue.

The Speaker declared that the quorum was complete while Mian Aslam insisted the House was inaccurate.

On Thursday, the Opposition members did not go to the Assembly chamber and instead had a mock session outside as a token of protest against Speaker’s attitude.

Some of the Treasury members, this scribe talked to after the session were of the view that Assembly members making short appearance in the House only to point out lack of quorum should be barred from this practice by law. It should be the prerogative of only a member who sits in the House and takes part in the proceeding for considerable time, they said.