While it is understood that representatives of the public to the Parliament have districts of their own that they need to visit and personal matters to attend to, at the end of the day they remain public representatives who’s primary job is to be present in the National Assembly and the Senate and contribute to the deliberations that will affect the country. It is not an onerous job either, certainly not as tedious as a weeklong nine to five schedule or as backbreaking as manual labour. In fact with allowances, perks and privileges thrown in, being a public representative might be one of the best jobs in the country.

Despite this, and the solemn duty placed upon them as servants of the country, a large portion of our representatives do not do their job at all. According to a report by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) as many as 69 lawmakers did not make any contribution in the work of the National Assembly in the fourth parliamentary year, bringing the average attendance per sitting of active participants down to 60% from last year’s 65%. While an average attendance rate of 65%, the more concerning figure here is that 69 lawmakers did not make any contribution at all during the whole year. It is not hard to imagine that if we counted lawmakers who had participated only one or twice during the year the number would have been much larger. The individuals that are supposed to represent us in government have done nothing meaningful at all during the year.

This culture of disdain for the parliamentary procedure and general indifference is not limited to these few lawmakers; it permeates throughout the Parliament as is especially concentrated at the top. Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and other notable politicians all have dismal attendance records. With party leadership so cavalier, it is impossible to expect the rest to be duly diligent.

It is not difficult to imagine that if being a MNA was treated like any other job these individuals would have long been terminated from their positions. Participation depends on the agenda and party politics, but we should expect some measure of competence or at least commitment from our public representatives to their jobs.

Perhaps a legislation that mandates a certain level of participation before being qualified for re-election will change this indolence. With our representatives refusing to represent us, we must force them to do so.