Attendance in provincial and national legislatures has always been a problem in Pakistan. As much as MNAs and MPAs want to grab a seat in the elections, they are loath to sit in these seats when it comes time to actually debate bills and laws.

However, it has come to light that the Sindh Assembly has been able to improve the attendance records of female MPAs by offering grooming and salon services. The Sindh assembly is successfully running two salons for the ladies of the house to ensure their attendance and lessen their tendency to run off in the middle of the sessions. Now the Punjab Assembly is also considering setting up a beauty salon in the assembly premises to get the job done effectively!

While the frivolity of female MPAs is lost on one, even if the attendance is ensured, participation of these women in proceedings is an entirely different story. Pushing these MPAs to give an input requires a forthcoming attitude; oftentimes they do not know or cannot care less about what the agenda is. Over 90 percent of the women in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly did not bother to speak during the assembly sessions. It is a classic case of sluggishness and nonchalance about the matters of utmost importance. It is sad that it may all just come down to a trip to the salon (set up with taxpayer money). No wonder women’s quotas are criticised, when the women given these important opportunities do not seem to value them.

But the men are not far behind either. This lack of interest in the serious proceedings of the state flows from the top. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has attended National Assembly proceedings only five times in the last four years while Imran Khan appeared two times. May be it is time we give similar incentives to these champions of democracy to make them come to the sessions.