ISLAMABAD: There was drama in the National Assembly on Tuesday when a member of the federal cabinet — instead of responding to issues related to his ministry — slipped out of the house while opposition members were talking about the oil and gas shortages in the country, leaving the treasury benches red-faced.
This incident was the highlight of the otherwise lacklustre proceedings of private members day.
Jam Kamal Khan
Initiating debate on a point of order, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Ghulam Mustafa Shah drew the house’s attention towards the delay incurred by PIA flights due to a fuel shortage.
PPP Parliamentary Leader Syed Naveed Qamar then pointed to media reports warning that stocks of petrol and diesel countrywide were short of the mandatory strategic levels, that too at a time when there was heightened tension on the country’s borders.
Minister of state for petroleum & natural resources leaves house during opposition speech criticising oil, gas shortages
Mr Qamar held both the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources responsible for the situation.
“It seems the government is sleeping,” the PPP leader said, adding that in keeping with past practice, the prime minister would only take the notice of the situation when it was too late and some ministry officials would end up getting sacked.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, responding to the members’ points on behalf of his absent cabinet colleagues, said that only the minister concerned could respond. He was of the opinion that the fuel shortage may have been due to the PIA’s non-payment of outstanding dues to Pakistan State Oil (PSO).
During the discussion, NA Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi allowed JUI-F’s Naeema Kishwar to move a resolution calling on the government to “take steps to do away with loadshedding of gas in the country”.
As soon as Mr Aftab requested the chair to defer the resolution, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jam Kamal Khan entered the house. Mr Aftab then took his seat, saying the minister had arrived and would now respond.
Mr Qamar, who had wound up his speech by this time, took the floor again to repeat his concerns for the minister’s benefit.
But he was still speaking when the minister left the house again after a brief chat with fellow MNAs.
“The minister is leaving again,” some backbenchers shouted as he made his way out, but neither the deputy speaker nor Mr Qamar noticed.
When the PPP leader was finished, some treasury and opposition members pointed out again that the minister had departed.
The deputy chairman tried to cover for the minister, saying perhaps he had left to get more information on the issue. However, he later had to defer the resolution on Sheikh Aftab’s request.
Earlier, the house rejected an amendment to the assembly rules, moved by the MQM’s Dr Fouzia Hameed, proposing that the national anthem be played before the commencement of NA proceedings. The amendment was rejected by a 41-6 vote.
The house also adopted two resolutions: one urging the government to subsidise Haj travel for low-income persons and another seeking to send official delegations to Madina to commemorate the birth anniversary of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
During a debate on a motion on the “performance of Statistics Division with reference to population census” moved by MQM’s Sheikh Salahuddin, the opposition members criticised the government for delaying the census in the country which had been due since 2008.
Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch assured the house that the government was committed to conducting the census before the next general elections.
The PPP’s Aijaz Jakhrani again raised the lawmakers’ demand to increase their salaries as promised by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in his budget speech.
Safron Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch said that commitments made on the floor of the house were always given serious consideration, adding that he might take up the issue in Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.
Courtesy : Dawn News