What are the main crises of Pakistan that need answers in the current parliamentary session, so that parliament is considered useful and sovereign, rather than just a debating club?
The following needs to be done on this issue: Two hours of uninterrupted discussion daily, for nine working days, on nine adjournment motions, with a clear, corrective policy statement by the government. These motions are as follows:
Day 1: Discussion on what the government intends to do to prevent an economic meltdown. How does it intend to honour its commitments of offering minimum wage and increments in government salaries while also curtailing government expenditure? How does it intend to bring the elite into the tax net without disturbing subsidies given to the poor elements of society? How will it reverse the falling GDP growth rate of 2.5 per cent? How will it avoid the potential disastrous fiscal deficit of 8.4 per cent and resultant exchange rate volatility? How will it improve the economic health of public sector corporations and improve investor confidence? How will it avoid an IMF programme?
Day 2: Parliament should draw up a strategy to identify target killers, rapists, those who blow up girls’ schools, criminal elements and kidnappers in each province; and formulate a strategy to apprehend them irrespective of political protection. Investigative reports for all atrocities should be presented to parliament and its special committee.
Day 3: Discussion on what constitutes interference in Pakistan’s sovereignty including intrusive US policies, drone attacks, and how these will be stopped with immediate effect.
Day 4: A discussion on how energy resources will be transparently and efficiently explored so as to avoid gas shortages and electricity loadshedding.
Day 5: An evaluation of how the victims of the 2005 earthquake, the Attabad landslide and the flood are still suffering due to criminal negligence and the corruption of the state.
Day 6: An evaluation of atrocities in Indian Kashmir and Indian water-theft ratio from Pakistan and formulate a workable strategy to arrest this trend.
Day 7: Come to an understanding of what is causing provincial disharmony. Equitable resource sharing and a smooth transition for implementing the eighteenth amendment’s provincial autonomy clauses should also be discussed.
Day 8: There should be a clear identification of development schemes being executed as well. Status and corruption details based on technical evaluations of each development scheme should be demanded.
Day 9: An evaluation of existing government schools, water supply schemes, and health unit facilities should be carried out, with analysis of how to fill in the gaps.
The above urgent work agenda can be started off in the next two weeks, so that people gain confidence in parliamentary institutions and the millions being spent on them can be justified.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2011.
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