ISLAMABAD    -   Breaking the parliamentary tradition, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Friday avoided to call a meeting of the joint parliamentary party of the ruling coalition ahead of the significant sitting of the National Assembly fearing its dissident MNAs and allied parties would not be participating in the moot.

On the other hand, the joint opposition in the National Assembly in a show of power held its parliamentary party meeting at the Parliament House that was attended by as many 159 MNAs out of its total 162 strength.  One independent MNA Ali Wazir representing opposition is in jail and another opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Jam Abdul Karim has been declared an absconder by a court.

It is parliamentary tradition that the ruling party and the joint opposition separately used to call meetings of their parliamentary parties ahead of the first sitting of every NA session to form their political strategies for the house.

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According to a PTI insider, the summoning of the parliamentary party meeting would have been an embarrassment for the ruling party as not only over its dissident lawmakers had been absent in the moot but also its allied parties as well.

Prime Minister Imran Khan himself chairs every meeting of the ruling party and the absence of a large number of MNAs would have made headlines in the media that the Prime Minister has lost the majority in the house, he added.

In Friday’s sitting of NA, around 65 MNAs of the PTI were absent and out of 13 dissident lawmakers who have been issued show-cause notices by the ruling party, only two attended the sitting.  Out of 179-member strength of the ruling coalition in the house, PTI has 155 MNAs while all its allied parties have a strength of 24 including two independents MNAs.

In the extraordinary sitting that continued only for a few minutes, total 265 MNAs were present in the house including 159 of the opposition parties and 106 of the treasury benches.

All five members of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), an important ally of PTI, were absent from the house while some of the MNAs of ruling party’s other allies including Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM-Pakistan), and Balochsitan Awami Party (BAP) did not make their way into the house as well.

The chief of Awami Muslim League (AML) and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, whose party is a coalition partner of the PTI, also did not attend the sitting. Some of the federal ministers were also absent in the sitting that was adjourned to meet again on March 28 (Monday).