All bark and no bite? Opposition’s role in K-P Assembly remains limited

Lawmakers say it is very inactive in actual legislation


Sohail Khattak May 29, 2016
K-P Assembly. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: The opposition’s role in legislative business at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly remained limited in the incumbent government’s third parliamentary year, which concluded last week.

According to officials, opposition leaders were more inclined towards non-legislative business, particularly resolutions and speeches on points of order. However, their role in bringing new laws or amending existing ones was minimal.

Government officials of the assembly criticised the role of the opposition and called them silent observers.

“A good opposition will make it difficult for the [incumbent] government to survive,” said a senior official of the assembly. The official drew attention to laws enacted by the government and then drastically changed via amendment bills.

To be noted

“The K-P Local Government Act, 2013 was amended six times in a year,” he said. “If the opposition was active and participative in legislation, the government would have had a tough time passing their bills through.”

The official was also critical of the opposition’s daily speeches delivered on points of order to criticise the government and its policies covering diverse subjects. Then, the speaker or deputy speaker would ask government ministers to submit replies.

“Each time the government moves a resolution enacting a law from the house, opposition members make a noise, demanding the speaker send the bill to a committee for discussion.”

The official said opposition members subsequently disappear and do not take interest in the bills, thus they come out of the committees unchanged. He cited the example of the controversial K-P Ehtesab Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which the government tabled on May 6 in the house, after the actual law was drastically amended through an ordinance in February.

“Only Saleem Khan of Pakistan Peoples Party submitted an amendment to the proposed bill which is now before the select committee of the house, while rest of the opposition members limited themselves to speeches and post-enactment criticism of the law,” the official continued.

Suspicions float

Awami National Party Parliamentary Leader Sardar Hussain Babak, on May 20, criticised the bill in his speech, but did not bother to submit amendments to change the clauses which he slammed in his speech.

The opposition members blame the K-P treasury benches and even the chairs of the speaker and deputy speaker for deliberately keeping them away from the legislative work.

He added the opposition are informed in the evening through a phone call about a select or standing committee meeting which is to be held the very next morning.

He even said the speaker and deputy speaker would turn off mics of the opposition members when asking ministers for replies to points that were raised. However, the official refuted Babak’s claims, saying the opposition can submit their amendment any day.

Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Muhammad Atif Khan said most of the opposition made a noise in the house to grab media attention.

Atif, meanwhile, criticised speeches on points of order. “The speeches are not specific and based on hearsay. Un-parliamentary language is used. There should be an outcome to the speeches,” he said, pointing towards the speech of MPA Babar Saleem who directly challenged Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai and his family on the floor of the house.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2016.

COMMENTS (1)

Mamu | 5 years ago | Reply The opposition has to be knowledgeable enough to point out mistakes. The Government is performing par excellence on the amendment of bills so Opposition is relaxing as they cant do much.
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