Has our parliament been reduced to liquor, hashish and immorality?
We all remember the incident when the former defence minister outrageously slept through while the former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was addressing the parliament. It was hard for everyone who saw this spectacle to understand what substance or issue could possibly have made him doze off like that, during such an important address.
However, to everyone’s surprise, the parliamentary session on February 27, 2014 had the answer to this. A member of the National Assembly (MNA), Jamshed Ahmad Khan Dasti, representing Muzaffargarh, Punjab, deciphered the mystery behind this.
He discovered the substance that caused this to happen.
Dasti addressed his fellow parliamentarians a few days back and said that liquor, worth Rs40 to Rs50 million annually, was supplied and consumed in the parliament lodges and that a sharp smell of hashish enveloped the esteemed house.
Adding to this, he claimed that women were brought in the lodges for ‘immoral’ dances.
Later, the debate in parliament shifted from the legality of this issue to the definition of the word ‘immoral’. Parliamentary Secretary for Information and Broadcasting, Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, pointed out that there was no law in existence to interpret the word ‘immorality’, implying the need of passing such a law.
There used to be a time when issues pertaining to national security used to be discussed in Pakistan’s parliament; when the presidents of the greatest countries on this planet looked forward to our resolutions; when the power of our parliament agitated international borders.
There was such a time.
Until scandals arising from corruption in education to liquor and red-light parties started to invade the doors of the parliament’s lodges.
And it all fell apart.
Now, local households are forced to change the channel in order to save their family members from watching the ‘immorality’ debate; from witnessing ‘strategically important issues’ under discussion with our beloved, elected 342 members of parliament.
Not to be forgotten, the parliament lodges are also inhabited by families of some very respectable parliamentarians; this alone raises questions as to their integrity.
Disregarding all other important issues such as inflation, rise in fuel prices, impeachment of national security by drones and the likes, the house accepted this ‘critical’ matter of ‘immorality’ to be of vital significance, above everything else.
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq asked Dasti to come up with evidence and added that if Dasti’s claims were correct, the parliamentarians would be questioned and held accountable for the matter.
Sadiq said that the lodges were equipped with working CCTV cameras and footage for the last month was available.
When a drone attack hits the soil of our nation, breaking smiles into cries and when the population of Muzaffargarh protests against drone strikes, entrusting members of the parliament to work for them, these members pay little heed.
They are too busy spying in the lodges at night, looking for gossip or maybe even trying to watch those alleged dances themselves.
It may be possible that our gracefully elected members are spending their time on an issue of such insignificance because they are bored. They are bored with the same old discussions on drone strikes and fuel prices, and they want something new and refreshing on the table.
Well, it is their parliament after all – if they want it, they shall have it.
Although the legality of the issue that Dasti pointed out is significant, it is not as vital as it has been made out to be. British members of parliament have been caught drunk in the assemblies and they have been convicted consequently.
Even more distressing is the fact that the law enforcement institutions including the Supreme Court which we hold in such high esteem in our country, discount such acts to the extent that the need to raise them before the parliament arises.
The parliament, according to the constitution, was reserved for matters which required the expertise of distinguished individuals elected by their constituents. It is a shame for us as a nation that it is now used as a source for confirming fairy tales and messy rumours.
Dasti himself was once accused of presenting a fake degree and breaching the public representation eligibility. This issue also raises legal questions about Dasti’s ability to serve the nation and speak on the floor of the house.
Discussing our parliamentarians’ dirty laundry in broad daylight serves as a moment of shame for us. Irrespective of the result of these allegations, we all know that they will not, in any way, bring peace and unity to our divided nation.
We are witness to the country’s capital being frayed apart by bombs, our northern areas subjected to drone attacks, one part of the nation rebelling for independence and all our MNA’s find are rumours and scandals as chief issues to be discussed in the assembly.
Maybe we should, for once, think and reconsider the members we have elected and think thrice the next time we decide to cast a vote.
This might not help our nation’s integrity but at least the parliament’s integrity may be restored.
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