Even when involved in a vicious and polarising controversy – over financial impropriety no less – the parliamentarians managed to put aside their differences when it comes to increasing their pay, perks and privileges – anything for a noble cause after all. It seems the old adage is true; party lines may be temporary, but greed is permanent.

The House – unanimously –adopted a motion to increase their salaries five times as the present remuneration is “meagre” and “not commensurate with their status”. It has been proposed in the motion that basic salary be increased from the current Rs 36,000 to Rs 200,000, a five and a half times increase. That is not all; the parliamentarians sought such wild increases in every other head, from travel allowance, office expenditure to the number of business class tickets allotted to – all at rates exceeding 500%, when the yearly increase in the salary of a common employee is at most 10%.

This money is to be paid to parliamentarians who don’t attend sessions, who haven’t spoken on the floor once since being elected, who have done nothing other than vote where their party asks them too – and these people sickeningly ask their business class return tickets to be increased from 20 to 30. RS 200,000 will be paid to people who haven’t posted tax returns worth 20,000 in many cases – or not at all in case of some. After this shameless display of greed the parliament wonders why the people support the military when it tries to take over.

Under what logic was the salary increased? Are the families of the lawmakers going hungry in their palatial estates? Are their convoys of luxury jeeps running out of petrol? Even if a raise was needed how did the settle on the figure of 200,000? It sounded ‘just right ‘or just because they could? Considering the grinding poverty the majority of Pakistan lives in, these self-professed servants of the people should donate every cent of their government salary to charity.

What makes this motion more condemnable is the context in which it has been passed. In the middle of a raging debate on unjustly enriched parliamentarians, when other bills on cyber crime and electoral law await their attention, the parliament felt it was a good time to fill their coffers – a virtual slap in the face of those who hoped Panama papers might reign in the greed of Pakistani lawmaker.

This is a senseless and wildly inappropriate bill – corruption in legal garb – and should be stopped immediately. This is taxpayer money that the parliament is demanding after all. For the reader who is reading these in the searing heat wave remember this; all your leaders voted for this. Imran Khan, Atizaz Ahsan, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, Chaudhry Nisar – everyone.  Sindhi, Punjabi, religious or secular; greed unites them all.