Arguably the first ‘standard’ session of the Senate - where normal government functions took precedence over ceremonies and political statements - also turned into a standard scene one gets to witness in the parliament; pandemonium and political standoffs. Pakistan maybe new, but the Senate, at least for now, remains the old one.
Both sides are guilty in this exchange; the opposition, incensed by barbs thrown by Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid – who was in Parliament to answer questions by the senators – staged a walkout, grinding the activity of the house to a halt. Next, there was another walkout by the opposition when it was not allowed to speak on the Result Transmission System (RTS) fiasco by the deputy-chairman of the house. It was not long before animosity took over from a sense of combined duty.
The formation of the new government, especially with their promise of doing things differently, should now actually start working towards showing that difference. It will not be very long before people start accusing them of the same old politics with a few new faces. If a political precedent has to be set, and one that is democratic too, the party in the government needs to give the opposition the space to oppose its policies and also allow it room to bring up issues that they believe are relevant and work towards debating them out instead of not allowing them to speak in the Senate.
On the other hand, the opposition should understand that while walkouts might be an important part of the democratic process they are reserved for the most pressing of issues. Every other parliamentary session cannot be so chaotic. It is their experience in that parliament that should push for the democratic process if the new government is premature to understand how the ruling party must follow the decorum. The masses are not expecting the same mainstream politics that they have witnessed for a long time. Let us give them a good show.