ISLAMABAD - The constitutional requirement of presidential address to both the houses of parliament at the commencement every parliamentary year is religiously organised by the political regimes.

The joint opposition on the occasion of this parliamentary ritual dominates over the presidential address by creating hullabaloo followed by boycott from the house. 

The presidents of the country, despite the constitutional importance of the presidential address, could hardly find a favourable atmosphere in the house to easily deliver their address. 

The National Assembly Secretariat, because of expected uproar from opposition benches, has to fix an extra sound system almost every parliamentary year. 

The lawmakers from treasury benches and journalists are seen trying to listen to the speech of the president with the help of headphones due to brouhaha in the house by the opposition.

The president of the country, in the start of parliamentary year, addresses the joint session of parliament and makes an attempt to share the roadmap, loopholes and future strategies of the incumbent government.  PTI’s government, at the start of parliamentary year, had witnessed worst resistance from opposition factions. As, the opposition had created rumpus in both speeches of President Dr.Arif Alvi to the joint sitting.

Joint opposition on occasion of this parliamentary ritual dominates by creating hullabaloo followed by boycott

The lawmakers from both sides of the aisle usually treat the debate on Presidential addresses in a casual manner.  Political and constitutional experts viewed that the importance of the debate on the Presidential address could be gauged as this important agenda is normally disposed of at fag end of the parliamentary year. 

Though the debate on presidential address is mentioned in the ‘order of the day’ of all the sittings but the lawmakers find time to initiate and quickly wind up debate in the last sittings of the parliamentary year. “How can a lawmaker remember the main points of presidential address for more than eight months,” political experts commented, mentioning that the lawmakers from both the houses in their speech hardly speak relevant to the address of the president.

It was observed that the debate on presidential addresses provides an opportunity to the backbenchers who are often seen struggling to get the floor. Mostly junior and young lawmakers use this ‘opportunity’ for catharsis or highlights issues of their constituencies. 

Some disinterested MNAs in the house even not bother to speak on the presidential address to the joint sitting of the parliament.

It is even interesting to mention here that the opposition parties consider it ‘a deliberate attempt’ to ignore the motion moves by the opposition. As the opposition cannot move its motion in the house before disposing of debate on the presidential address. “It is a deliberate attempt to ignore motions from the opposition side,” said PPP parliamentary leader/ former Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf talking to this newspaper.

PPP-P senior MNA said that the incumbent government has initiated this practice to ignore the debate on presidential addresses. “Parliamentary norms should be respected by all the lawmakers but sadly PTI’s government violating it,” he said.

PML-N’s senior MNA Barjees Tahir said that PTI’s government should avoid tarnishing the norms of parliament. “This tactic to ignore debate on presidential addresses should be discouraged,” he said.

On the other hand, the government members viewed that both the PML-N and PPP-P have a history of ignoring the debate on presidential addresses in the house.