ISLAMABAD - The government seems to drag on the National Assembly session although the business hall gives a deserted look amid the ever-thinning presence of the lawmakers and the ministers – not to mention the Prime Minister.

Quorum has been pointed out in the last few days causing adjournments - the opposition has protested - the government has promised to improve the presence - but nothing doing.

Even the journalists, sitting in the press gallery, feel the boredom and the presence on their seats also seems to be thinning.

Opposition leader Khurshid Shah says he was sick and tired of pushing the government to attend the sessions. Speaking in the house, he said even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was not ready to give any importance to the parliament.

The ministers’ seats, he said, remain vacant as the members look for answers to their questions. “There is a limit to everything. We cannot press more for their presence,” he remarked.

Shah said the opposition does not want to point out quorum every day as it would be an insult to the elected representatives. “What the people will think about us (politicians). We have to behave maturely,” he added.

Speaking outside the parliament, other members from the opposition urged the government to attend the parliament sessions as the people had not voted them into power to enjoy lives in the federal capital.

On its part, the opposition has tried to bind Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend the assembly sessions by amending the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly but the premier’s loyalist stopped the passage. The treasury benches defeated the opposition’s move by 73 to 60 votes.

All the opposition parties including the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Qaumi Watan Party, the Awami Muslim League and the government’s ally Mehmood Khan Achakzai of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party had supported the Pakistan People’s Party-sponsored amendment.

The government’s rejection of the amendment invited strong criticism from the opposition parties and Khurshid Shah blamed the government of neglecting the elected house.

The veteran politician referred to British Prime Minister David Cameron who despite all his engagements found time for the House of Commons. “I feel our Prime Minister is busier than the British PM,” he taunted.

Leaving the parliament, PPP’s Dr Nafisa Shah said the government should not have opposed the bid to amend the rules which would have strengthened the parliamentary system. She said the government must not promote the dictatorial mindset as it would weaken the democracy.

“The people want us to attend the assembly sessions and raise their issues. If the PM and his cabinet members stay away from the proceedings, there is no point to speak to the walls,” she said.

Yesterday, the House continued debate on the President’s address to the joint session of the parliament.

Taking the floor, PTI’s Shahryar Khan Afridi emphasised the need for bringing FATA into mainstream.

On a point of order, Khurshid Shah criticised the government for not transferring benefits of low oil prices in the international market to people.aller provinces had reservations over the implementation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and demanded that CPEC should be implemented in the light of decisions taken in the recent the All Parties Conference.

Treasury member Asiya Naz Tanoli urged the opposition to appreciate the good work of the government like national health programme, youth business loan scheme and farmers’ package. She said the CPEC was a unique project and will improve the economic condition of the country.

Responding to a call attention regarding the non-payment of dues to the affectees of Kuwait-Iraq war 1992, Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Pir Saddaruddin Rashdi said the payment has been made to all those affectees whose claims were approved by the UN. He said over Rs 17 billion were paid to the affectees.

Earlier, the house was told during the Question Hour that Pakistan Agricultural Research Council had developed 10 hybrids of maize, sunflower, canola and fodder to increase production of these crops.

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the government was trying hard to recover the pending electricity bills. He said so far 30 small dams were built in different provinces.