Inside Parliament: A state of oblivion
All I could see were legislators engaged in frivolous chit-chat, quite oblivious of what was happening in the house.
Disillusionment is the word that comes to mind when I recall my first assignment of covering the proceedings of the National Assembly of Pakistan a few years ago.
The reason behind that disappointment, which I guess is not cynicism, is that I did not find it the place where legislators assemble for the sake of legislation, where elected representatives of the people join hands to steer the country out of its many crises.
How many politicians are there who are absolutely above-board, against whom no one can point fingers? How many have the charisma to mould public opinion? How many have a good understanding of the economic problems that ail our country? How many are equipped to deal with and communicate with the international community? These, and some other questions, were vexing my mind and all I could see was legislators engaged in frivolous chit-chat with their colleagues, quite oblivious of what was happening in the house.
At times, the situation got so out of hand that the Speaker of the house was left with no option but to remind members that they seemed unaware of the rules of business and decorum of the house and needed to follow them.
Perhaps, several military rulers, as it is blamed by the politicians, have marred the spirit of the institution it was established for. The dictators are blamed for derailing the democratic process but who invites them at every opportunity, to step in and take charge?
Can the politicians deny this fact? Can they also deny the reality that they need to grow up and show some level of maturity so that the politics of this country can benefit and that democracy can mature? The fact is that those who do make it to parliament happen to be mostly scions of upper-class families. They represent their parties and their respective vested interests and not really the thousands of their voters, most of whom happen to be ordinary Pakistanis.
Besides, one other thing that I have noticed while covering proceedings of the National Assembly is that the political parties that are represented in it are only concerned with their own interest. They are too busy in preserving themselves and in waging the war of survival that they hardly have any time to think of solving the problems and addressing the issues of those who elected them.