Citizens from different professions, religions, educational qualifications, age groups, genders make up country’s largest province’s legislative assembly
She looks like a normal parliamentarian. Her portfolio of being a member of Punjab Assembly’s (PA) Industries Committee also doesn’t raise any eyebrows. She, however, is the only member of PA whose academic qualification is middle. Zeb-un-Nisa Awan is a member of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on a reserved seat in the Punjab Assembly.
Ms Awan is a house-wife in the official record of the assembly and has been member of district council previously.
Pirzada Muhammad Jahangir Sultan is another parliamentarian in PA. His academic qualification is mentioned as under metric in the assembly record. He also belongs to the ruling PML-N and has served as district council member previously.
As the debate on Annual Budget 2015-2016 wrapped up, Pakistan Today looks at the records of the MPs who constitute country’s largest province’s legislative assembly. Of total 368 MPs of the Punjab Assembly majority, 89, hold Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. The second majority degree holders are of LLB, 33, while 18 parliamentarians hold Matriculation and 18 hold FA degrees. Sixteen of the 368 parliamentarians hold MA degrees.
There are seven doctors, six MBAs, six MSc, four B Com, and four BSc degree holders in the assembly. Of the seven doctors in PA, three are from ruling PML-N, two from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), one from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and one from Pakistan Muslim League (PML).
There is only one PhD in the Punjab Assembly Dr Murad Rass who belongs to PTI. This information is also mentioned in parliamentarians’ record available on the website of the PA.
The current assembly can be mentioned as the assembly of the agriculturists as 72 parliamentarians in the assembly are agriculturists. The second largest group by profession is of the businessmen. There are 62 businessmen in the PA while there are 20 lawyers, 19 landlords and 14 ‘house wives’ in the current PA. There are also nine social workers in the assembly. There are only seven politicians in the assembly who have written politics as their profession in their assembly record.
Apart from this, there are five educationists, one land lady named Mehwish Sultana of PML-N and one human resource professional Iram Hasan Bajwa of PML-N. Interestingly there is also a free-lance writer in the assembly named Kaneez Akhtar from PML-N. Her qualification is FA.
There are 75 male and 293 female members in the PA. Majority of the parliamentarians, 72, in PA are in between the age bracket of 41-50 years. Forty nine members are between 51 to 60 years old while 12 are between 71 to 80 years old. There are only eight members who are between 25-30 years old.
There are nine Christians, one Hindu, one Sikh and 357 Muslim parliamentarians in the assembly. Ramesh Singh Arora is the first Sikh since 1947 to become an MPA. He is from PML-N.
The assembly officials say there is no legal provision to stop anybody from becoming parliamentarian on the basis of education.
“Former President Pervez Musharraf had put the graduation condition to contest election which was abolished by the previous government of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP),” said a senior official of the PA.
MEMBERS ARE HERE FOR DEVELOPMENT FUNDS:
“The assembly doesn’t reflect the educated class of the province truly. This has reasons. There are two types of MPs in the assembly: the one who contest elections, the others who are elected on reserved seats. Unfortunately, political parties don’t award tickets to the professionals on reserved seats. Even in Senate, constituency politics is kept in view,” said political analyst Salman Abid.
“Majority of the parliamentarians come to the parliament to get development funds. So their education or profession isn’t considered by the parties. What they consider is whether or not they are electable. This started in 1985 when General Ziaul Haq gave development funds to the parliamentarians,” he added.
He further said, “They are lawmakers and they job is to legislate. This is why they fail to make any positive contribution in debates on budget, foreign policy and other important issues in the assemblies. The development funds should be given to the local government.”
“When the political parties in Pakistan understand this, the educated and sensible people will come to the assemblies. If a person is middle or Matric pass, obviously he/she won’t understand issues of foreign policy and strategic depth and the space would ultimately be filled by other quarters,” he maintained.