Today’s Dawn argues that the president is not convening parliament often enough, and that Parliament must be called to session more often so that the people’s work can be done. Of course, the same editorial also argues that, even if Parliament is in session, the government still relies too much on presidential ordinances to bypass Paliament and make law. I don’t disagree, but I think there’s an important factor missing from Dawn‘s reasons for having Parliament in session more – making members of the National Assembly stand up and be counted.
Dawn rightly argues that “democracy will not be strengthened by the mere existence of a genuinely elected parliament.” Elections are, of course, only one part of a functioning democracy. Also needed is the democratic government to do actual work. This ensures that the needs of the people are met, but it also serves as a check on the men and women elected.
Members of the National Assembly should not be appointed for life, yet too often we see the same people being elected over and over again, building a dynasty for themselves and their family rather than working for the people. We are to blame for much of this, since we continue to vote for them. But also this shows a crack in the process because often we do not have any actual works by these people to judge them, only their words. It’s as if we are electing people for their speeches and not for their actual legislation.
Pakistan does not need more drawing room politicians, but that is what we have turned our National Assembly members into. It’s too easy for them to criticize the president and his Ministers since they are never really called on to stand and be counted themselves. They only have to make speeches condemning others, never having to take responsibility for themselves. If Parliament were in session more often, the National Assembly members would be required to actually make laws and be counted for their work, rather than just their speeches. Then the people would be able to rightly judge who was working on their behalf, and who is only working to fill their own pocket.
Incidentally, it might make the president look better, too. Something he might want to consider.