By Dr ijlal Ali Shah.
Recently, the federal cabinet has approved up to 150 percent increase in salaries of the federal ministers, ministers of state, members of the National Assembly, its speaker and deputy speakers, members of Senate, its chairman and deputy chairman and even this overnight phenomenal increase was taken as insufficient by the members of National Assembly as they termed it insufficient to meet their basic expenses. Quite ironically, the government and opposition were able to put their disagreements aside and seemed unified over this cause. Apart from this hefty increase in their basic pays, these (Awaami Numaindas) also enjoy several perks and privileges which include office maintenance allowance (Rs.50,000), constituency allowance (Rs. 70,000),utility allowance (Rs.50,000), travelling perks include 30 return air tickets in business class and countless Train tickets. These representatives also enjoy several IT equipment, telephone and travelling allowances which are paid through our taxes.
This reminds me of a famous saying
“Andha Bante Revariyan Woh bii apno men”
Instead of using the platform of parliament for improving the living standard of the common man, they have made it a means of increasing their own income and privileges.
All the above scenes of lamentation, moaning and criticism have to do with their deliverance and recognition of my vote.
As the news reached different circles, it was not entertained by the common man rather he seemed quite infuriated against this act of his own representatives and it appeared sinful before his eyes. It would be unfair to assume that all MPs mint money and therefore, need not appropriate salary and allowances commensurate with their status and responsibilities. MPs must be paid handsomely but they are also expected to deliver at the end of day. This seems totally unjustified when the government has been giving seven to 10 percent raise in the basic salaries of public sector employees but to be honest and a bit rational about it, this increase might not seem annoying to me but then, do the Lawmakers performance inside the parliament could ever justify this immense increase in their salaries? Well as a common man I have no concerns with whatever sum they are getting as long as they are fighting for my rights. I should not be flustered over this twofold or fivefold increase but the thing that bothers me is the sheer lackluster in their performance inside the Parliament.
If they had ever understood the true essence of this term “Awam ke Numainde” and took it on their shoulders, perhaps they might not have thought of these perks and privileges. The public would never question this act of lavishness but their non-seriousness and reckless attitude inside the parliament raises many eyebrows. They are not doing what they are supposed to do. There is neither any performance nor attendance standard inside the parliament. There is no such restriction or evaluation considering their attendance performance inside the Parliament. There is no such scrutiny on being absent from the session proceedings for months. What happens with the ordinary Government employee? If he/she goes beyond the allotted vacations, it would be recovered from his/her pay but there is no such restriction on these spends thrifts since we are indebted to them as being our representatives. They are the voice of common man in the parliament but perhaps they are not interested in working inside the Parliament. Most of them take it as a part time job as they are busy in running their own businesses.
The day following this historic precedent, was full of non-seriousness where majority of the Parliamentarians were away from the session proceedings.
According to a recent report published by a reliable non-governmental organization FAFEN (that keeps a close eye on the performance of Parliamentarians ), only 7 % public representatives were there at the start of session on 24th of Nov and this number could hardly increase to 16 % towards the end of session. The given numbers suggest that 86 % of the total Parliamentarians could not gather sufficient morality in being responsible representatives.
Similarly another report presented by FAFEN suggests that more than 50 % of the members have not taken part in reasoning and argumentations that go on during the session proceeding since 2013. 159 members out of 342 in the last 3 ½ years could not find interest in asking a single queue inside the Parliament.
Here are some potent stats (Last 6 months of 2015 with a total of 42 sessions) about the so called renowned politicians that would certainly leave you staggered;-
- Imran Khan who takes much of the credit for social mobilization, transparency and honesty has attended only one session out of these 42 sessions.
- Hamza Shahbaaz, son of CM Punjab could only gather time for 2 sessions out of these 42.
- Faryaal Talpur ( Zardari ‘s sister ) attended 2 sessions.
- Ex- Speaker NA, Fahmida Mirza attended 3 sessions.
- Ex-CM Punjab, Ch. Parvaiz Elahi and Ex-CM KPK Ameer Haider Khan could only attend 6 sessions in the last 6 months of 2015.
Above stats clearly advocate the flippant attitude these representatives’ posses in resolving the issues of the common public. What to expect from those lawmakers that they would prove to be the silver lining and would restore our sufferings, when they could not gather time for sitting inside the Parliament. This clearly suggests that how much of empathy they have for the common man. The law-makers low attendance shows their lackluster attitude towards their responsibilities. They sound dispassionate in introducing quality legislation for the progress and prosperity of this society.
When an ordinary one would sneak peek into the above stats, unfortunately he is in no way expecting these representatives to fight for his rights.
It is now up to you to decide in the line of above statistics, whether our representatives justify their privileges or not.
The author hails from Abbottabad. He is an MBBS student at Ayub Medical College ATD. A humanist and a writing enthusiast. He is the member Youth Parliament Pakistan under PILDAT. He can be reached on facebook.com/ShahIjlal and Tweets @shahaliijlal