Buckling under pervasive and extreme criticism for “ruling by ordinance” the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government decided to get its decrees rubber stamped by the Parliament to avert any contention of being “undemocratic”.  However, the way it has pushed these ordinances through the lower house was more egregious than the promulgation of the ordinances itself. If getting rid of “undemocratic” tag was the government’s objective, it has failed miserably – the parliament is more polarized and dysfunctional than ever.

The reason the Parliament – and the whole democratic exercise – exists is to ensure than every proposal is adequately debated, its provisions analyzed and all different political stances incorporated to come to a consensus based solution. Yet the PTI only thinks of it as an annoyance, a formality to suffer through instead of the core constitutional requirement that it is.

Under the direction of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, the government got 11 ordinances passed in a space of half an hour. The legislators were given no time to debate the motions, no time to read the provisions or hold proper debate on any of them. This happened despite the opposition putting up a ferocious protest against this assault on democratic principles.

Not only did the Deputy Speaker not take any cognizance of the protests – which he is obligated to do – he forged ahead with the explicit purpose of passing the motions. This is in clear violation of his oath and duty; the minute the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker take oath, they stop being members of their parties and become impartial arbiters that pledge their loyalties only to the Parliament. Yet the deputy Speaker in this instance was only acting as a lieutenant of the PTI; serving its interests to the exclusion of everything else.

What the PTI did in the Assembly was not democratic, but a brazen imposition of numerical strength. At no point was the opposition consulted, at no point were the allowed to intervene.

With such a perverse mindset displayed by the ruling party, it is not surprising that the opposition is besieging the capital. This government, whose leader railed against what he called a “royal” style of governance by past governments, is now doing something far worse. The prime institute of democracy, the touchstone of the people’s mandate, has been turned into mockery of what it is supposed to be.

The PTI has to mend its ways, it cannot spurn democracy and continue calling itself democratic.