LAHORE - Punjab Assembly on Friday made history when its legislators left Industries’ Minister ‘answerless’. But they did it in a unique way not witnessed or heard before in any legislature. 

Industries Minister Sheikh Alauddin did not have to answer any of the questions during the question hour since none of the movers was present in the House. Six questions about his department were on the agenda, but disposed of without any answer being given by the minister.

But the minister was not a happy man at the end of the day. He had come well-prepared to the House, ready to respond to the difficult supplementary questions that may have been asked by the members.

Nonetheless, the Minister for Prisons, Mr. Ahmed Yar Hanjra was just lucky on Friday. He has not done his home work as usual, but he had to answer only two questions out of the total seven about his department. The movers of rest of the questions were absent.

Hence, only two questions out of total 13 were responded to in the question hour which ended in less than 30 minutes. 

While the Speaker can reprimand the ministers and the concerned civil officers for their absence from the House, the lawmakers, on the other, hand, enjoy immunity from scolding. In case of their absence from the question hour, they just lose the opportunity to grill the minister concerned.  

Punjab Assembly made yet another history on Friday. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal started the session with only one member present in the House. It was Raheela Anwar of the PTI, but she earned the distinction of being the only member of the Assembly to have watched the rare of scene of empty benches all around as she sat alone on the opposition benches. Other members came later but their number did not exceed 43 at any point in time.  Interestingly, 163 members had marked their attendance, but still the House gave a deserted look throughout the proceedings. It has been leant that many of the members had marked their attendance when the sitting was over. On Thursday also, 180 members had marked their attendance but not more than 40 were actually present in the Assembly chambers.   Law Minister Rana Sanaullah maintains that members cannot be stopped from marking their attendance even if they come to the Assembly after adjournment of the House. It is not their mistake if the session is adjourned before the stipulated time, he says.