When the Prime Minister’s “Question Hour” policy was announced to be a part of the parliament’s timetable, back in September, we thought it was a highly positive step which would bring some much-needed clarity and communication between the government and other parliamentary members. The new parliament started with the hopes that high-level government representatives would break the chain of absences and actually attend the National Assembly sessions, and the Question Hour would help bridge the gap of miscommunication between the opposition and the government and shed light on otherwise ignored issues.

Ten months in and unfortunately it seems that neither higher-level cabinet members are eager to attend the parliament sessions, nor does the opposition appear ready to take advantage of the Question Hour to present some pivotal questions to the government.

Wednesday’s session of the parliament exemplified lack of leadership and wasted opportunity. After two months of absence, the Prime Minister Imran Khan attended a session of the National Assembly, his first appearance since the February 28th session, and his seventh overall since the 2018 elections. Despite his presence being a rarity, the Prime Minister’s attendance did not lead to an extraordinary or informative session of the assembly- indeed; his presence had no effect at all since he did not utter a single word during the session. As many as five bills were tabled in the National Assembly. Yet the Prime Minister did not chime in the debate around these bills, nor did he address any important issues.

While the Prime Minister ought to attend more sessions of the National Assembly, it seems that the opposition members have spent so much time creating noisy unrest in the parliament that they have forgotten how to put forward valid queries to the government when the opportunity arises. Despite disrupting the parliament with their many protests on other days of the week over rising prices and the cabinet reshuffle, the opposition failed to present their concerns against the recent petroleum price hike and major changes in the government’s economic team when the Prime Minister was in attendance.

It shows a lack of leadership from the government and missing incentive from the opposition. The Prime Minister had promised more accountability from the parliament through the Question Hour, and the opposition had sworn to productively hold the government’s feet to the fire. We are still waiting for both to accomplish these undertakings.