Paying respect to the vote is not enough

Respecting voter equally important

People in Pakistan, irrespective of whether they are men or women have shown keen interest in elections, be these local government polls or general elections for the NA or provincial assemblies. It is not unusual to see pictures in media of octogenarians or those with physical disabilities being carried to the polling stations by relatives. Voters living in small and distant hamlets in mountainous areas cover long distances to make use of their right to vote. So do people living in desert areas of Thar and Cholistan. People have again and again challenged dictators who imposed themselves on the people by force knowing well that they could be beaten up, shifted to torture centers or sent to jails. There is a need on the part of those who are elected to pay due respect to voters who send them to the assemblies to debate over issues that concern people and do necessary legislation. The MPAs and MNAs are paid monthly wages, air tickets and provided perks and privileges to facilitate their work. The least required is to justify the funds and costly privileges is to attend the sessions of the Assembly they belong to.

Federal Minister for Water Resources and PPP leader Khursheed Shah who wanted a discussion in NA on development in the agricultural sector as the sole remedy for the prevailing crisis complained that like former prime minister Imran Khan, Shehbaz Sharif too does not attend sessions of the parliament which shows that “we have not given due respect to parliament”. The issue reflects a general malaise as similar complaints used to be made when Nawaz Sharif was the PM. With the PM not in the House the minsters also start dodging the sessions. This encourages the treasury members to go shopping or attend to personal affairs, instead of performing the function for which they were elected. Since 2008, it has been common to adjourn the sitting after it was found to be lacking in quorum. The absence of the PM has frequently led to use of expletives or physical skirmishes in the House, which would not have otherwise been possible. This has eroded the Parliament’s stature and will continue to do so till PMs realise that their negligence to sufficient time to NA weakens democracy.

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The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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