The Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, unveiled major budget changes in the National Assembly on Monday, including a Rs20 billion farm subsidy fund, withdrawal or reduction of some duties and a higher raise in the salary of government employees. However, this session pertaining to a general discussion on the Budget 2015-16, saw a low attendance, and opposition walkouts, which made it even easier for Dar to pass proposals and get the job done his way.


The Muttahida Qaumi Movement followed with a walkout of their own to continue a protest against Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif, for what they call his refusal to ‘apologise’ for some of his remarks he made regarding their party. After this, shouts of “pre-planned” erupted from PTI benches as the speaker made way for his deputy before the party lawmakers stormed out of the house, followed by sympathy walkouts by PPP and the PTI-allied Jamaat-i-Islami. In the middle of this chaos, not only was there an acceptance of 20 and partial acceptance of 15 of the 92 non-binding recommendations made by the Senate, but 66 proposals were accepted in principle. These men and women can’t be trusted to show up or set aside their differences to actually implement collective policies and recommendations. The sitting government benefitted from the chaos, and the opposition “politicians” were made fools off.


This absurd attitude by the MNA’s and lawmakers of this country has seem to become a trend. In a recent parliamentary committee on the Food Ministry, in the absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his cabinet members, lawmakers could not focus on any topic related to public importance and the National Assembly session ended in futility. In the house of 342 members, hardly 42 members were present to attend the session of the lower house. The session spanning over ten sittings, consumed 31 hours and 32 minutes, with each sitting delayed by 27 minutes on average. The public is not privy to the attendance record of National Assembly lawmakers therefore a head count is observed at various stages of a sitting to gauge members’ attendance.


If these politicians cannot even make an effort to sit through drafting recommendations, how will they actually ever effectively execute them? The National Action Plan is a just one case in point where no clear plan has been made by the political leadership, only vague principles exist, and neither has it been implemented with vigour. As far as the budget is concerned, another week or so and everyone will forget it. Dar can do what he wants, and these irresponsible walkouts let him. Our leadership has a crisis of morals, where they only represent themselves rather than representing their people.