ISLAMABAD - The absence of ministers in National Assembly triggered opposition yesterday to second what emanated from the meeting of Corps Commanders held a day earlier that hinted at government’s incompetence in making progress on war against terror.

It was the absence of government ministers and the ‘odd’ response of the Speaker that annoyed the opposition to an extent that they endorsed the statement issued by ISPR, the PR wing of Pakistan Army, regarding failure of the civilian government.

During the Commanders Conference held in Rawalpindi on Tuesday to review the country’s internal security situation, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif stressed the need for “matching and complementary governance” for progress in the fight against terrorism.

The heated debate in the house unleashed when Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Khurshid Shah pointed out the absence of ministers in the house. He lost his temper when Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said that parliamentary secretaries were available for answering queries of lawmakers.

“You want to run the government by bureaucrats? Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif does not push his team to work despite directions from Army Chief,” Mr Shah told the speaker expressing concerns over the absence of ministers.

The PPP stalwart accused the PML-N government of not taking Parliament seriously despite the lapse of two and a half years adding that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself was not paying heed to the house.

Referring to the minutes of Corps Commanders’ conference, the Opposition Leader said the dissatisfaction shown by the top military brass should be a lesson for Premier Sharif to rectify his cabinet.

And then Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Chief of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), joined the debate though the lawmakers cannot take part in any other discussion in the question-hour session that is meant only lawmakers to seek answers to their questions from the treasury benches.

He criticized the military leadership for violating the constitution by issuing the statement about the performance of the federal government.

“This house should not endorse any policy or foreign policy that is made outside the Parliament House. If both Sharifs (Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif) are on the same page then we will support them without any condition,” Achakzai said.

He added that in case there emerges any difference between the two Sharifs, he would prefer to stand by the civilian one, referring to Premier Sharif.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shafqat Mahmood also joined the debate putting his weight behind the statement issued by ISPR and endorsed that the government has failed to make breakthrough on several fronts including the ongoing operation against militants.

He demanded of the government to brief the lower house on the progress made on implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) adding the statement issued by the ISPR should be a matter of concern for the federal government adding the government should act seriously on achieving its targets.

Another PTI lawmaker Dr Arif Alvi openly supported the ISPR’s statement arguing the military and civilian courts in the country have to go in harmony and with mutual cooperation.

He said the lack of cooperation on part of civilian government can jeopardize the operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorist adding the government was least concerned about its targets.

GOVERNMENT’S REPOSNSE: Later in the evening, the government said it will continue to pursue the National Action Plan and all other initiatives to bring about a positive change in the life of the common man.

An unnamed spokesperson for the government in a statement said the initiatives taken by the government showed visible results in improved law and order situation and vibrant economic development.

The spokesperson said the government has taken all its decisions in an open and transparent manner, keeping in view the national interest as its foremost priority. He said the government’s firm commitment to good governance has been the hallmark of all its policies.