Defence Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif’s continued absence from the series of recent high level security related meetings has brought attention to a lack of activity in the role of defense minister. These post-Quetta bomb blast meetings chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself, were attended by the Chief of Army Staff and intelligence agencies chiefs, and the absence of the Defense Minister from such a high level meeting points to a glaring fact; the minister is either ill-suited to showing up for work at such a sensitive time, and therefore perhaps at all times, or that perhaps his input is neither required, nor desired in the room, when the ever changing situation in the country is under discussion.

Silence regarding his whereabouts and his commitments elsewhere, from his subordinates in the Defence Ministry, shows that they were unable to the justify his absence. Others have contemplated that one of the plausible reasons for the Defence Minister not attending the meetings is because of his irrevocable differences with the interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, and this is certainly no secret. However, if this is indeed the case, the PML-N ministers need to set aside their personal agendas for the greater good and this remains seemingly impossible for them so far. Politics is nothing if not difference of opinion, and this must not stand in the way of ministers performing their day-to-day duties.

Some members of the ruling PML-N are of the view that Khawaja Asif is paying more attention to $37 billion CPEC related power projects than the defence affairs. He has been bequeathed the mammoth task of liberating the country from its crippling power crisis as early as possible, and that too by the Prime Minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif himself. If the PM feels that Mr. Asif is better suited to focus his attention and expertise on this task, then he should give him sole responsibility and assign the role of Defense Minister to someone who can do justice to the role. Considering the PM’s habitual lack of interest in attending the National assembly sessions, perhaps it is too much to expect him to reproach his ministers for skipping attendance also. This culture of landlord absenteeism is adversely affecting the smooth running of the country and not just the Defence Minister, but another habitual offender, i.e., Mr Imran Khan would also do well to acknowledge that.