In a rare ruling, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Thursday barred Defence Minister Khawaja Asif from attending the upper house of parliament sessions, as his persistent absences have irked the Chairman. Although the move is largely symbolic it will hopefully give a clear message to those who have ignored the Senate Chairman’s warnings time and time again, taking light of their responsibilities. The minister was supposed to conclude a debate regarding Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif’s visit to Afghanistan, but he slipped away to attend some other rather pressing engagement and sent State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali to take notes on the debate, which the chairman dubbed as “unacceptable”.

The chairman gave reference of rules 13 and 264 of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business of the Senate, the first-ever draft of the code of conduct that had recently been passed amidst opposition. Ministers had objected to the draft saying that its misuse can tarnish the image of a neat and clean politician, a paradox in itself.

In the past two years our Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif and interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have come under heavy criticism for failing to show up in the Senate and in the Standing Committee for Human Rights respectively. Earlier in the year there were four different incidences in which the Chairman had to suspend the house proceedings due to absences of relevant ministers. It is time that they are held responsible so they do not make light of their duties and prove to the citizens of this country that they did not make a mistake by electing them to be their representatives.