Early signs suggest that the government is on the path to exacerbate the country’s economic problems, and opposition parties seem all but content to let this play out, as the budgetary debates in both the National and Punjab Assembly have shown. With the former accepting multiple Demands of Grants and the latter passing its annual budget in under 20 minutes with scant numbers of opposition members present, the lack of engagement by opposition parties in the debate surrounding the finer points of the budget has let the government off the hook.

Impassioned speeches, slogans of protest, future street demonstrations and a multiparty conference is all that the opposition is willing to throw at the government. While these steps might seem effective in sending out the opposition’s message to the general public about the government’s failing economic policy, it does nothing to actually challenge the government’s stance in parliament and work towards changing clauses in the budget that affect the masses adversely. The daily tedium of discussing each aspect of the budget may not sound appealing but is one of the fundamental roles of all lawmakers, irrespective of their allegiance to the treasury or opposition benches.

With so many veterans sitting in all houses of parliament across the country, it is horrifying that so few of them actually engage in the nitty-gritty affairs that the parliament has to discuss on a daily basis. Instead, politicians are more content to brandish their party loyalties and attack those that oppose them, all but forsaking their real duty to the people as their representatives. The ruling party is sadly cut from the same cloth, as their time during the last five year term was spent atop containers while the government of the time passed whatever bills it wanted to with relative ease.

Street protests, multiparty conferences and other organisational matters outside of parliament can never take precedence over the work that these politicians were voted into power, resolving their issues through good governance, which always starts with a strong legislative system. Sadly, the budgetary situation has only reiterated that politicians from mainstream political parties make decision unanimously if they are in power, and those on the other end of the spectrum have only one ambition; to ensure that the next elections give them a chance at the top.

The opposition’s arguments against the budget ring hollow, considering they are not that substantive in the first place and members of the bench are not even interested enough to visit parliament to stop the government from passing something they claim will cripple the general public.