In an era of a tug-of-war of power between the assembly and other institutions, the parliament has increasingly called upon added respect for its members and sanctity of its institutions. From calling the people’s court supreme to attempting to protect parliamentarians from speech policing laws, the parliament has emphasized the message that it and other institutions are on the same level. The parliament however doesn’t seem ready to perform with the same vigour it advocates its importance with.
For some time, the minutes of the meetings of the senate and national assembly have failed to show any substance or action. This fact was highlighted by Monday’s session of the senate. It seemed good on paper, with the senate passing four resolutions unanimously on four different subjects. The problem is that resolutions don’t do anything – which is perhaps why they were unanimous – it is just a resolution to do something, barely more than a suggestion and nothing concrete.
While a show of support or condemnation is useful on some levels- it could certainly have done good on matters of hate speech of Captain Safdar, on which the senate was quiet- redundant suggestions which don’t really offer anything, are useless and not worthy of the respectable senate. It reflects cowardice and ineptitude of members for a mere calling of amendments to provide stringent punishment, as it did so in a resolution against producers of substandard medicine. The Senate did not do any better to address violence against journalists, an issue raised because of the attack on Ahmed Noorani, by just a condemnation and a vague suggestion for a bill for journalists.
This is unfortunate especially in the case of the Senate, whose members are especially elected because of intellect, skill and respect, to be able to provide more nuance and context to proposals of the National Assembly. As with the national assembly these days, it seems that resolution making passes now for lawmaking.
This is not to say that this senate is not capable or has not done anything noteworthy this year. The parliament has passed some good laws, such as the Companies Act 2017 and the Hindu Marriages Act. It seems that since the induction of the new government, both the major institutions of democracy see themselves as just a temporary interim government, and see the assembly and the senate as stages to make pointless speeches and pass unproductive resolutions.