On a day when most of the questions from legislators were about the state of the nation's economy, the absence of Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh from the National Assembly annoyed members from the opposition benches.
Bargees Tahir, an MNA from Nanka Sahib (NA-135) of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said absence from the question hour had become "routine" for federal ministers.
Perhaps sarcastically, PML-N legislators invited Interior Minister Rehman Malik to take the questions on behalf of the cabinet, since he was one of only two ministers present. Malik restricted his reply to a broad smile.
Malik, however, was forced to begin answering questions after Sajid Hussain Turi, the MNA from the Kurram tribal district, walked out in protest over the failure of the government's failure to control the law and order situation in the district and restore access to the Parachinar-Tal-Peshawar highway.
"I am going to join the youth from Parachinar protesting outside the National Assembly," said Turi, who then went to join the sit-in on Parade Avenue by Parachinari youth protesting the highway's blockage.
The walk-out prompted Malik to assure the house that a military escort would be provided for the security of civilian traffic on Parachinar-Tal road within next 48 hours.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2011.