A promise to strengthen Parliament | Pakistan Today

A promise to strengthen Parliament

  • Waiting for its fulfillment with bated breath

On Monday Imran Khan held his first meeting with the COAS. He also received a briefing from the interior secretary and spelt out the guidelines for the ministry. His third engagement was however the most significant. Within days of taking over as prime minister, Khan addressed the Senate where among other things he vowed to strengthen Parliament.

While addressing the Senate Imran Khan laid down his plan to tackle the blasphemy issue which is being used once again by the TLP for rabble rousing. Khan said he would take the issue to the OIC which should have devised a policy on the matter long ago. He also promised to raise the matter with the UN though he conceded that there was little hope of the international body doing much. Hopefully the assurances extended by the PM would lead to the TLP canceling its march to Islamabad. With the COAS and the PM agreeing on strengthening peace inside the country and the region, a strong message has gone out to extremist groups to avoid creating the type of turmoil that they did outside Islamabad in November last year.

The real test will come when Imran Khan tries to fulfill the promise to strengthen Parliament. He has repeatedly assured to set a precedent of the “Prime Minister’s Question Hour,” an exercise where the PM will be present on the floor of the House to answer questions regarding government policies. He has also ensured the full representation of his government during parliamentary sessions. In case the ruling parliamentary party attends the NA sessions regularly, there would be fewer cancellations of sittings caused by lack of quorum.

Imran Khan needs to be reminded that it is equally important to strengthen the Parliamentary committees. It is at the level of these committee that consensus is created between different, sometime conflicting, points of view among parliamentarians over a particular legislation. The committees also seek inputs from state institutions and government departments before preparing national policies that are finally passed by the NA and Senate. Democracy cannot function properly without a strong parliamentary system.