It is the beauty of any democracy that elected members, even if they are behind bars, can voice their opinions on issues of national concern. Presently, when the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is under severe criticism by the opposition parties and independent analysts for its involvement in political victimisation of its opponents under the garb of accountability, speakers of Punjab, National and Sindh assemblies issued production orders of, Hamza Shahbaz, Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur. The purpose behind production orders of these politicians is clear. The ruling party does not want to see hurdles in the budget passing process.

The necessity of allowing members of the opposition parties demonstrates the need of a strong parliament in a time when the ruling party is left with no other option but to make hard choices to stabilise the ever-dwindling economy of the country. It is a welcome sight to see that the arrested politicians are allowed to comment on the budget – the first one by the PTI government. The production orders of the detained political personalities have saved the treasury benches from the humiliation that it might have suffered had these leaders not given an option to attend the budget sessions. It is a key part of parliamentary rules and democratic norms.

The hate of the Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan for corruption is evident. However, his hatred for corruption should not be perceived by the people as an attempt of political victimisation of his opponents under the garb of a fight against corruption. If some people see it like that, they are not mistaken; the Prime Minister seemingly urged the Speaker of the National Assembly to disregard the rules of parliamentary procedure and refuse the production orders of opposition members. This is neither proper nor legal – instead it seems personal and oppressive. 

The ruling party, especially its leaders, while trying to deny the production orders of the arrested politicians, created unnecessary friction that had bogged down the budget debate. The present budget is a tough one. Any prudent political leader would not engage in such an exercise during times when the treasury benches need maximum cooperation from the opposition benches. While the allies of the ruling party, Akhtar Mengal, Pervaiz Elahi and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), understand the need of a strong parliament, many in the ruling party fail to appreciate the essence of a strong parliament.