ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly will meet today (Monday) and focus mainly on terrorism-related issues amidst a fast deteriorating security situation, continuous attacks by the terrorists and the government’s indecisiveness over a military operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The brief agenda for the first day of the new session, released by the National Assembly, lacks any item related to terrorism legislation, but the Lower House of parliament is expected to turn all its attention to unabated terrorist attacks across the country. The main feature of today’s session is the likely appearance of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the House. Nawaz has kept himself at distance from the proceedings of the National Assembly for the last many months, and only briefly turned up to cast his vote in the presidential election in July last year.
The government side believes that the prime minister will brief the assembly through a policy statement about the government’s policy to tackle terrorism. However, whether a full-fledged military operation is in the offing or not is a question to which there is no certain answer. Prime Minister Nawaz’s long absence from the assembly has been sharply criticised by the opposition parties, especially Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), both accusing the government of bypassing parliament on thorny and critical issues.
Parliamentary sources confided that the speeches from both treasury and opposition sides may dominate the proceedings of the House. They are likely to focus on terrorism incidents of recent past. However, no anti-terrorism legislation is on the agenda on the first day of the session. It is noteworthy that the Standing Committee on Interior recently passed the Pakistan Protection Ordinance and anti-terrorism bills.
The government, which seemed in a hurry to get these legislations stamped from the House committee, can bring them up during the current session. To devise their strategies for the session, the government and opposition would hold meetings of their parliamentary parties before the session. The parliamentary party meeting of PML-N and its allies will be chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The opposition parties would also hold their parliamentary party meetings and devise the strategy for the session. The opposition boycotted the last few days of the previous session as a mark of protest against Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan’s words, which it believed amounted to ridiculing the opposition. It vowed to continue its boycott. However, according to one PTI lawmaker the boycott was only for the last session and the party would attend the new session.
It is worth recalling that last session of the National Assembly ended on December 20 last year and it is again assembling after twice rescheduled in month of January this year to finally start on Monday (today).
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