The government considering allowing parliamentarians’ spouses and children to use travel allowances allotted to the legislators is a very tone-deaf move by the ruling party. These business class air tickets and other benefits are meant to help the members of the parliament to attend the sessions and nothing else. In any case, hasn’t Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf constantly claimed that it is looking to end the culture of special favours and unnecessary privileges?

The proposed legislation becomes even more problematic if we take the current situation into consideration. The economy is battered and COVID-19 threatens to do much more damage. How can the government think about this at a time like this? This goes against the government’s claims of looking out for the ordinary people. The move becomes additionally insensitive once we take the upcoming plans in this year’s budget into account. If we cannot even afford yearly increments for government employees, why are travel allowances for family members of parliamentarians all that important? Why should the family members of the lawmakers enjoy the tax money of the public when they do not contribute to the law-making process?

If anyone has to apply austerity measures to their spending, it must be the government. The government should have set an example by reducing the salaries and other perks of the lawmakers. But the ruling party is doing the exact opposite of what is required when the economic outlook of the country is really grim.

The situation at hand is reflective of a society where those at the helm hardly care for the hardships and suffering of the ordinary people. Such a step will not only harm the social fabric of society, but it makes the government unpopular. It is hoped that the Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan takes note of this proposal and scraps it immediately; it also goes against everything he has fought for since he started his political struggle.