I truly believe that if parliamentary oversight is exercised with full might it can resolve many of Pakistan’s issues. It is an incredible system which has evolved over centuries and if used properly can deliver miracles. The Speaker’s chair can truly be a lifesaver for Pakistan’s current political imbroglio because it can be a good tool for oversight and accountability. Interestingly, ordinary people who live in villages still have a belief in that if their issues are raised on the floor of the house, there can be change. This faith in parliament is positive and needs to be reciprocated.
Having said that, the reality is that many issues raised on the floor of the house are not resolved. The floor of the National Assembly plays the role of a pressure cooker – a lot of steam is let off but the meat is not always cooked.
To prove this point I have gathered a list of issues I raised in the last assembly session. It is as follows: 1) Need for greater accountability of funds received for earthquake assistance — this was said in light of the quake’s fifth anniversary and alleged diversion of funds. 2) Investigating gang rape of children in interior Sindh using blackmail through the internet. 3) Scrutiny of projects, undertaken by the ministry for water and power, to construct small dams. 4) Employment termination of the staff of the National Programme for Improvement of Watercourses — in violation of the agreement reached on the floor of the house. 5) Investigate the use of funds from the Benazir Income Support Programme for flood donations and that too in areas where there was no flood!
6) Unfair treatment of Parachinar’s Shia community. 7) Revival of Pakistan’s composite dialogue with India. 8) Investigation into the alleged use of sand from the archaeological site of Moenjodaro for road construction. 9) Questioning the closure of mobile phone networks in a city the size of Dera Ismail Khan, on the pretext of security. 10) Mismanagement of the Watan card scheme, resulting in manhandling of flood victims. 11) Raising issues with a recent statement by the president that the business community should handle security on its own. 12) Major cuts by the Higher Education Commission to varsities. 13) Asking the government to take note of kidnappings of Hindus in Sindh. 14) Alleged victimisation of employees of the state-run APP news agency. 15) Death of newborns and miscarriages reported among several female flood victims — happening presumably because of acute shortage of medical facilities and medicines in relief camps.
This is simply one MNA’s pleading. Imagine the number of issues raised collectively in the National Assembly. An intelligent, people-oriented government and custodian of the Assembly would ensure that issues raised on the floor of the house are resolved to the people’s satisfaction. This by itself would help raise the government’s performance vis-à-vis governance.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2010.
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