ISLAMABAD - It seems backbenchers from both sides of aisle in parliament will never get ample time in any government’s tenure to express themselves. These legislators from treasury and opposition, sitting on the back seats of the parliament house, in almost every sitting are seen struggling to get the floor. Among these unfortunate lawmakers, a large number of them after making failed attempts to get the mic prefer gossips with colleagues and very few in them leave the house in protest.

If luck favours any backbencher either from treasury of opposition to have the floor, he/she could hardly be able to express his point of viewpoint in a given time, which is not more than two minutes. These are permanent nature of reservations of those unlucky ‘members of parliament (MP) who holds no governmental office and is not a frontbench spokesman in the opposition or government, being instead simply a member of the “rank and file”’.

But, this is not the saga of all the backbenchers [of parliament] as around majority among them never bother to participate in any debate or legislative business. Laughter of these disinterested lawmakers could easily be heard even in the parliamentary gallery of journalists but their voices are hardly heard in ‘Voice vote’ during legislative business.

“In parliamentary procedure, a voice vote or acclamation is a voting method in deliberative assemblies in which a group vote is taken on a topic or motion by responding orally. The voice vote is considered the simplest and quickest of voting methods used by deliberative assemblies,”.  What to talk about their indifference in discussion on national issues or legislation, they are hardly seen raising voice about the issues/ difficulties of their concerned constituencies.

Most of the lawmakers from the lower house of the parliament seemed disinterested in being part of important lawmaking procedure or introducing their own legislation, which is their prime responsibility.

The reported figures of previous national assembly [PML-N’s era] revealed that around 200 MNAs had never bothered to move a single bill on any issue in the National Assembly. These 58 percent lawmakers of total strength, mostly elected from the Punjab, had even never become part of a group of their party to move any bill for legislation. 

Expressing concerns about ‘discrimination’ with them in parliament house, the legislators from treasury and opposition have almost same feelings. They were unanimous in their views that only front rows are preferred to take part in debate or in any legislation. “Backbenchers in parliament are facing this discrimination almost in every sitting of the house,” said MNA Mahesh Kumar, talking with this newspaper. “This is the attitude is discouraging for newcomers [Young parliamentarians],” he said. Saad Waseem, another young MNA from opposition, who is often seen struggling to get the floor to raise his point of view. “Proper time should be given to all the legislators,” he said, mentioning that all the lawmakers have equal right to speak in parliament.

Having same reservations, lawmakers from treasury benches [from back seats] are also unhappy on this discrimination in the parliament. “We [The backbenchers] hardly get any floor in the parliament to speak...Equal opportunity/time should be given all the MNAs,” said PTI’s MNA Faheem Khan.

Political and constitutional experts viewed that parliamentary leaders in front row are preferred to speak as they represent their respective political factions. The backbenchers are normally ignored to save time of the parliament.