The frivolous and inane

Published: July 22, 2012
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The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance communications consultant. She tweets @tazeen and blogs at 
http://tazeen-tazeen.blogspot.com

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance communications consultant. She tweets @tazeen and blogs at http://tazeen-tazeen.blogspot.com

If someone was handing out awards to legislative assemblies for coming up with the most bizarre legislation and the most frivolous debates, chances are that the Punjab Assembly — the largest legislative house of the country — would win. The house has turned into such a joke of late that one wonders about the ability of most of its members to just be rational, let alone their ability to make laws.

Every other day, members of this supposedly august house are reported in the media with regard to their involvement in verbal spats, even at times on the assembly floor, calling one another such impolite names that they often need to be taken off the records. From trying to pass legislation against mobile phone packages to legislation encouraging polygamy, and from calling names to throwing shoes and chairs at people, members of the Punjab Assembly have indulged in just about everything — at times, repeatedly so.

Instead of taking up vital issues that affect the province — such as the high number of children out of school, the recent young doctors’ strike, increasing unemployment or the increase in beggary — members discuss matters that are irrelevant and can in no way be passed as matters of government interest, political debate, legislation or attempts at legislation, which is their raison d’être. Latest in the long line of inane debates is the discussion over Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s promise to pay Rs3 million to acid burn victim Rukhsana. Instead of discussing ways to strengthen laws on domestic violence, acid throwing and police reforms, the house went after the film-maker who first highlighted the often ignored issue through her work. It was quite ironic that the motion to ‘help this poor woman’ was moved by Sheikh Alauddin who is quite well known for his misogyny and has harassed his co-workers in assembly on camera.

When members of the assembly do work on issues of importance, they apply less and less diligence and care. For example, according to a PILDAT report, it took the provincial assembly only 21 hours and 56 minutes to pass the annual budget for the fiscal year 2012-13, which was around Rs782 billion. In comparison, the budget debates for 2011-2012 consumed approximately 39 hours — almost double the amount of time for 2012-2013 debates. The house passes multiple bills which have been returned to the assembly secretariat from the governor’s office with objections and reservations, without any changes made in the text. The provincial law minister disregarded the governor’s reservations by saying that the “governor has hired a team of English writers, who write the same type of objections on every bill.”

Perhaps, the Darwin Award for the most incredible legislation goes to Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan who moved a motion to remove the ostrich from the bird category and place it in the same category of animals as goats and sheep, in order to meet the increasing demand for meat in the province. One wonders why the poor birds had to be removed from their rightful place in the animal kingdom; if the reason was to encourage people to eat them, they could have done it without the hyperbole of legislation.

Going by the performance of this house, the election commission should be advised to start testing candidates on basic IQ tests before approving their nomination papers for the next elections. Who knows, the next assembly might want to declare elephants as fish.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Jul 23, 2012 - 12:11AM

    It is then thought provoking that despite its failure in legislation; why the Punjab is still the best governed province among 4 provincial and a central assemblies. Is excessive or “serious” legislation a hindrance in good governance?

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  • Jul 23, 2012 - 2:44AM

    At least there is a debate in Punjab Assembly over some issues. Just look at the Sindh and KP assemblies with virtually no opposition and Balochistan Assembly is a joke. You might also want to look at the tussle between Shazia Marri and Marvi Rashdi over excessive makeup in assembly.

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  • Jul 23, 2012 - 3:53AM

    @Inam Shah

    It is a case of more like the lesser of the current corrupt lot.

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  • mirealistic
    Jul 23, 2012 - 4:44AM

    The author’s intention is very clear which is to shield Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. The whole column revolves around her and is aimed to defame the provincial legislators as they have raised the issue to provide justice to poor woman (acid victim). I think the heading of this column is well suited for the author herself.
    It is a paradox that Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy was working to highlight the plight of acid victims in Pakistan and rather she herself added her bit to to exploit the poor acid victim. It’s a shame really it’s a shame for us.

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  • Imran Con
    Jul 23, 2012 - 6:17AM

    “Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan who moved a motion to remove the ostrich from the bird category and place it in the same category of animals as goats and sheep, …”
    That’s so hilarious and sad at the same time that my head feels like it’s going to explode.

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  • observer
    Jul 23, 2012 - 1:17PM

    Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan who moved a motion to remove the ostrich from the bird category and place it in the same category of animals as goats and sheep,

    Why blame Mr Rana Sanaullah alone? The majority of MPAs of Punjab Assembly in its infinite wisdom has already passed the resolution.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/lahore/19-Jul-2012/ostrich-is-not-a-bird-rules-pa

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  • chacha
    Jul 23, 2012 - 4:11PM

    Legislation encouraging Polygamy ? What do Pak women think of this ? Do they vote ?

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  • imran malik
    Jul 23, 2012 - 4:50PM

    Why cant the representatives of Punjab discuss Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s mis-comitment? Why not? Why media ppl want to dictate the representatives of people through their writings? Writers have to be conscious in giving names to the representatives of Pakistan. Please don’t spread your hate for people of Punjab.

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  • gp65
    Jul 25, 2012 - 2:39AM

    “Rana Sanaullah Khan who moved a motion to remove the ostrich from the bird category and place it in the same category of animals as goats and sheep, in order to meet the increasing demand for meat in the province.”

    Well people eat chicken don’t they? So if one bird can be eaten, why not another one? Why was it necessary to call it an animal to allow its meat to be sold?
    Or has someone also said that chicken is an animal?

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  • jansa
    Jul 25, 2012 - 3:23PM

    Ah yes, the great Rana Sanaullah, that pinnacle of intelligence.

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