Shehbaz Sharif’s absence

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, has been missing from parliament ever since he departed for London with his elder brother Nawaz Sharif. His prolonged absence is raising apprehensions as it is affecting the working of the parliament.

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has said that Shehbaz Sharif’s continued absence is a violation of assembly’s laws and wants the opposition to pick a new leader. He said that NA Speaker Asad Qaiser has asked to find out when Shehbaz Sharif intends to return as he has not been attending assembly sessions for a long time.

The role of the opposition leader is important in legislation and his absence is a violation of laws. The post cannot remain vacant for long as it hampers the smooth working of parliament. Lawmakers have a duty to attend parliament regularly and receive perks and privileges for it. A single session also cost millions to the exchequer over security costs and other arrangements. Lawmakers seem to be devoid of their responsibility to attend parliament. The opposition is in disarray and cannot agree to select a new leader in parliament.

Shehbaz Sharif has been in London for the past several months. Whether Nawaz Sharif is unwell or not, he is not a member of parliament, but Shehbaz Sharif has a huge responsibility as opposition leader. He faces a barrage of cases, inquiries, and investigations back home and has preferred to stay there. He has been constantly criticising the government regularly and it seems that the PML-N’s politics will be run from London during Imran Khan’s government.

The prime minister himself doesn’t have an impressive record of attending parliament either. During his time in opposition, Imran Khan had one of the lowest attendance at around five percent of assembly sessions. He even considered it an offence to come to parliament and sit with corrupt leaders who he alleged had come through vote-rigging. Now as prime minister, the government is blaming the opposition for not running the parliament in an orderly manner.

Upon being elected, the prime minister promised to attend the assembly regularly and even hold a question and answer session, but repeated ruckus during sessions dismayed him. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle should respect the sanctity of the esteemed parliament as this is the platform where they serve the people and resolve their problems.

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