Reforms body meeting called off for want of members

ISLAMABAD - The Election Reforms Committee could not hold its meeting Tuesday due to want of its members triggering cancellation of the meeting of the committee mandated to bring electoral reforms in the country.
In fact, the absenteeism on part of ministers, state ministers, advisors and lawmakers was felt and decried in National Assembly and Senate as Tuesday’s state of affairs in Parliament House was in contrast with the Friday’s show in the house when the lawmakers including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had occupied the seats for electing Speaker of the lower house.
The 16-member sub-committee of the Electoral Reforms Committee could not take place as only two members including its convener MNA Zahid Hamid had shown up at the venue (Old Constitution Room).
In National Assembly, both the treasury and opposition benches posed a deserted look triggering Mehmood Khan Achkazai to protest the absence of ministers demanding of Deputy Speaker Murtaza Abbasi to ensure proper quorum before starting proceedings of the house.
The only government minister available on the occasion for replying to queries of lawmakers happened to be Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed.
But the house had to be soon left with no minister at all after Sheikh Aftab left for Attock, his hometown, where he had to address corner meetings as part of election campaign ahead of LG polls in the districts scheduled to be held on November 19.
This was the reason Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani suspended proceedings of the house for 15 minutes protesting absence of ministers. Sheikh Aftab is Minister In-charge of Climate Change and he was supposed to present report on relief activities in the aftermath of earthquake that flattened thousands of houses in Khyber Pakhtukhwa on October 26.
Only six Senators occupied chairs in Senate when Raza Rabbani kicked off business in the house. However, lack of quoram was not pointed out by any member as the practice was discouraged once in National Assembly by Leader of Opposition Khurshid Shah who had urged the members not to point absence of members.
The scene on Tuesday in Parliament House was averse when comparing it to that of Monday when the corridors in the house would echo with slogans of PML-N as all lawmakers were directed to ensure timely presence so that Ayaz Sadiq could be elected with thumping majority.
Ayaz Sadiq was elected Monday as Speaker with 268 votes while his challenger PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood grabbed 31 votes. And on Tuesday, the newly-elected Speaker rushed to PM House to meet Premier Sharif instead of resuming his chair in the lower house.
Yesterday’s 40th meeting of the electoral reforms committee was important in a sense that the members had to discuss the draft of the new chapter on conduct of elections to local governments including judgment by Supreme Court regarding registration of political parties.
Besides, Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was supposed to brief the lawmakers about the mock exercise in Pakistani missions abroad regarding participation of overseas Pakistanis in election process in the country.
And in the National Assembly, the thin presence of members and absence of ministers was something virtually made things difficult for Deputy Speaker to move ahead the business. But he managed the house to continue by personally requesting some newly-elected MNAs to turn the mikes on and speak to the house.

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