The country’s leadership can justly take pride in the fact that the outgoing National Assembly has completed its full-term of five years for the first time in the democratic interludes of Pakistan; for General Musharraf’s crafted NA ‘elected’ in 2002 had also gone on to complete its full term. After the military dictator’s exit, the people had expected that their new representatives whom they voted into power would be more responsive to their needs, thus making the burden of life easier for them to bear. Sadly, they found their troubles ever mounting, while the MPs sparing no effort to amass any perk or privilege they could think of. A long era of despondency descended on the nation; at times the despair led the people to violent protests for instance, in the cases of excessive loadshedding and the fast rising prices. They saw little of comfort coming to them from the august halls of the NA.

Looking at its proceedings one would conclude that more often than not they were lacklustre, studded with lack of forum, absence of concerned ministers right when issues related to their ministries were being debated, etc. Brawls and fisticuffs and rowdy scenes were not unknown. Its main business, legislation, suffered badly, with the NA coming to life at the fag-end of its term and pushing through bill after bill, without chance for fruitful debates from the members to take place, even on bills with far-reaching consequences. Among the few times the NA caught public attention and, incidentally, put itself in a bad light was when former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and some of its other members addressed the house in degrading, critical terms of the highest judicial forum in the country, mainly to save President Asif Zardari against the consequences of invalidation of the NRO by the Supreme Court. To the misfortune of the nation, the required agreement between the government and the opposition on the caretaker setup has not yet been reached though the government is due to wind itself up in less than 24 hours. In response to the three names for the caretaker premiership suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, the government has proposed three of its own and all of them have been rejected by the Opposition. Letters are at this stage flying across and, it seems, the matter would go to the concerned parliamentary committee. In case, it also fails to come up with an agreed name, it would be left to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to make its choice.

The people are desperately waiting for the next elections to be conducted in a manner that leaves little room for doubt about their credible credentials i.e. they speak for their being free, fair and transparent. One would earnestly wish that the ECP is able to get over the hurdles that are doubtless intractable. Only then, the people could expect their genuine representatives to take the helm and attend to their problems.