Even the constitution of Pakistan 1973 borrowed the basic idea of the creation and composition of the Senate of Pakistan from the Westminster House of Lords, though Z.A. Bhutto’s Senate inherited a liberal and progressive exposure. As the first Senate in Pakistan could not survive beyond its first term due to abrogation of the constitution of Pakistan in 1977, it was revived after 8 years in 1985. The senators, apparently having no political identity, were elected on party-less elections of 1985.The most conspicuous among them were the capitalists, landlords, ex-army and civil bureaucrats and clergymen who considered General Zia-ul-Haq’s regime their nurturer because of the fact that Z.A. Bhutto had deprived them of their wealth and legacy, too. Gen. Zia who hanged him became their natural benefactor, as enemy of an enemy is a friend. So the hatred and fear of Z.A. Bhutto were the cause of a marriage of convenience between military establishment and powerful groups and organizations of society and state in Pakistan.

As the dominant forces promoting anti-democratic political culture and system designed their agenda on the basis of personal venom and stakes, the positive growth of institutions, society and state did not become the priority even after the constitution of 1973 was restored in letter and spirit. The worst victim of misplaced ‘Order of the Day’ was the moral character of the politicians, destroying ethics and moors of the democratic institution such as National Assembly, Senate and Provincial Assemblies in the fifth largest democracy in the world—Pakistan. Thus, democracy in Sindh civilization made progress with undemocratic culture. Not only, the elections were won and lost on account of preconceived strategies but also appointments in public sectors were made not on merit and eligibility but on personal links and likes. The result was horrible. Lust and greed dominated the soul and body of the political class, on one hand, and incapability and corruption intoxicated the public servants’ mind and behavior, on the other hand. In nutshell, the national society and national state came under the strong grip of vested groups, occupying seats from bottom to top.

In vibrant democracies, parliaments and congresses are the places where elected representatives perform the robust tasks and competent professionals work hard day and night in order to earn love and admiration from the citizens in general and the taxpayers in particular. Deterioration, lethargy and decay first originate from the democratic institutions like Senate and National Assembly because they are the beacon of hope and relief for the citizenry. Unluckily, the administration of the parliament redoubled the process of the flair of democracy. Consequently, the parliament became irrelevant to the people, the people irrelevant to the parliament. Unlike the successful parliaments in the world, the parliament of Pakistan has now transformed itself into a place of self-interests and personal stakes; wherein thousands of state servants daily come and go, enjoying luxuries and status. Billions of rupees are incurred on their salaries and perks. What they return to the nation is negligible. Honestly speaking, the personnel of the parliament do not perform what could be matched to the expenditures incurred on the provision of cold air in the summer and hot in the winter, to them. What about the other benefits that are billions of rupees! As such, the senate is the national institute ruined and rotten to which comparatively a young man from Baluchistan has been elected to head.

The biggest challenge Mir Sadiq Sanjrani, newly elected chairman senate, will encounter is twofold: first, administrative challenge and second, political challenge. At first instance, Mr. Chairman will be surrounded by the over crowed officers of the senate secretariat who know the craft of how to tame their new guest. They will come up with multiple temptations of all worldly things that include foreign tours having physical and mental comforts and enjoyments. Secondly, there would be no end to luxuries including bullet proof cars only the tires of which cost Rs.4 million after every four months. Additionally, a huge army of protocol and servants would be at his disposal for all residents, no matter native, urban or even in the foreign land. Being a young man, if he is carried away with these tactical temptations, his political fate will not be different from that of former speaker national assembly, Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani who completed five years in jail on the charges of misuse of authority while exercising his special powers as the Speaker N.A. If the honorable chairman has certain pledges and convictions to serve the greater cause, he will have to be ultra-conscious of the time-servers and flatterers who are in plenty in the administration of the Upper House. The Senate Secretariat is ill developed to such an extent that billions of rupees will be needed to demolish it.

Though, the image of the senate was awfully negative before the nation for the first time, yet the growth of one pillar of democratic set up ever remained non-productive from the day first since its inception in 1985. Generally, the claimants and protectors of democracy have increased many folds but the parliament as a whole has miserably failed to become a popular place for the redressal of the peoples’ anguish, injustice and miseries. At the time of durance and hardship, the citizens see toward either to judiciary or personal revenge, not to parliament. The vibrant parliaments all over the world always stop bloody revolution through marvelous role in mitigating the public sufferings, their anger. Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) conceived a creative agenda for more than 150 member states, long ago. Particularly after end of cold war era in hand with rise in the third wave of democracy in 1990s, IPU’s main thrust on its members is to resolve their domestic problems because every national crisis or tragedy disaster is always of native nature. Hence, parliament remains no more consulting or law-making body; instead, it becomes a popular place for provision of justice, holding the executives accountable, on one hand, and reforming the legal framework, on the other hand. In this perspective, the prime responsibility on the senate is to ensure good governance, respect of law, discrimination of all kinds, manipulation of religious and ethnic sentiments, and equal distribution of national income and inclusion of minorities in national decision making process. Yet another area where the senate shows its worth is elimination of corruption and corrupt practices.

Implementation of the aforesaid agenda of Inter-parliamentary Union will not be possible without radical measures to be taken towards administrative reforms and appropriate functioning of the Senate of Pakistan. If Mr. Chairman succeeds in the first challenge, the pressure of the second challenge i.e. political one would concede ultimately. Otherwise, both the challenges would naturally contribute to each other’s strength. He will also have to keep in his mind that the majority of senate personnel are loyal to none, even not to the system, but to their personal stakes. Whenever the political visionary leadership determines to change the decadent system, they grow worst opponents of the collective virtues. It is the reason that the Senate Secretariat is now a tectonic ship the fate of which to face the wrath of mother- nature and the spirit of the age.

 

The writer is EX-Director General (Translation), Senate of Pakistan).

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