The PM is once again away for medical treatment, and these routine absences are causing havoc in the country. And even if they didn’t, and everything on the political front was hunky dory, the opposition would make sure that the absence was a grave matter. In any case, in light of the recent uproar that the PM will be missing and the country will be run unconstitutionally as standard operating procedures have not been followed, the legal recommendation is that an interim Prime Minster should be appointed during the absence. It was the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who suggested this, warning of a “constitutional crisis”.

The premier is due to undergo open heart surgery in London and will likely remain hospitalised for at least a week. Without the approval of the Prime Minister, it was constitutionally impossible to finalise the budget since the rules of business clearly state “only the PM can approve and sign it”. The former CJP said no notification was passed empowering Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to perform duties of the chief executive in absence of Nawaz. Electing an interim prime minster is the government’s only solution, he opined.

What must be kept in mind is that the major objections are from the opposition - one that is trying to stay relevant, however it can. The former CJ is just that, a former CJ, and now has his own political party. The breakneck speed with which our politicians forget old crises, and move on to new problems is alarming. This one, specially, smacks of a total disconnect of politicians and lawmakers with the real problems gripping the country. Questions are being raised if the cabinet can meet without the Prime Minister. Of course the cabinet can meet; the Rules of Business 1973 unambiguously say that the cabinet can meet even in the absence of the prime minister. The government doesn’t come to a halt just because the head of state is missing. There is no such thing as a “deputy Prime Minister” in the constitution, and the PM having to declare Ishaq Dar as an interim PM is frankly farcical. Article 90(2) of the Constitution reads: “In the performance of his functions under the Constitution, the Prime Minister may act either directly or through the federal ministers.” This makes it clear enough that the whole debate is a waste of time.

While it would be good to see the PM attend more sessions in parliament and make fewer trips abroad in times of trouble, this current furor over a constitutional crisis is a non-issue. What are serious issues are the Panama account investigations, and the situation with the US and the Taliban. Our legislators need to stop stalling.