The PML-N has deemed the scale of its rally unlike any other jalsa or rally seen by the country before, amid reports that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is displeased by the less-than-expected turnout in his pomp-filled journey back to the provincial capital, Lahore. But the number of supporters and whether they meet the expected numbers is a moot point in front of a more pressing issue; that of the legislative body of the state missing in action with the PML-N rally making its way to Lahore. Given the fact that the treasury benches are overwhelmingly filled with PML-N members, with so many in attendance at the rally, on Wednesday, the National Assembly (NA) session had to be adjourned due to a lack of quorum. While political parties – the ruling party included – are well-within their rights to put on a display of strength or support amongst the people, doing so at the expense of matters of governance is not appropriate.

Of the 342-member assembly, only 47 lawmakers were present, of which only 11 belonged to the ruling party.

However, while treasury parliamentarians were otherwise engaged, it is strange that MNAs from the opposition also decided to skip proceedings, especially when they did not have other commitments. While the rally itself is no excuse, it would be interesting to hear an explanation from the opposition benches regarding their absence as well – at the very least, the opposition could have showed up and used the opportunity to point out the treasury’s absence to their own advantage.

And this is not the first time that the NA has been adjourned due to a lack of quorum either; prominent leaders such as both Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif hold the record for the lowest attendance in this term’s parliamentary proceedings; and if the MNAs are to follow the examples of their leaders, we might have had an empty parliament for the better part of these past four years.

What this tells us is that many parliamentarians – with chiefs of the most major political parties included – do not respect the democratic process as much as they would claim, considering they neglect to attend the house they have been voted into. In order to effectively represent the people that voted them in, attendance in parliament for all members is compulsory, and the treasury benches need to lead by example.