The parliament


The N League wears the opposition hat a little uneasily. This is not to imply that a sitting government at a particular tier cannot rally against another. It is just that the League, which obviously has a stake in the current dispensation, perceives itself to be upstaged by parties like the PTI because of it. Nothing peeves off the League more than the tag of friendly opposition. Its attempts to overcompensate for this are often klutzy, resulting in, for instance, a sitting chief minister talking of lynchings and senior party members – like Khwajas Asif and Saad Rafiq – speaking of mass resignation.
The threat to resign en masse from the assemblies was in response (it, as discussed above, always is) to the speech made by former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who said the legislature should resign because it has lost its mandate. The travails of the realpolitik aside, a theoretical scrutiny of statements as harsh as these is always in order.
The statement is incorrect, of course. Our republic might be modeled on Westminster but the UK we are not. The mandate of our government is clearly stipulated. The decision to change the government isn’t a judgment call but a mechanical process. Five years and you’re up. At least, that is how it is supposed to be. The candidates know this and, more importantly, the voters know this.
The sitting federal parliament might not be a dream but it is not as bad as is imagined by the commentariat or the opposition. To its credit are the 18th and 19th amendments. No minor feats, these. For they have facilitated a process of devolution that a federal government should have. And the PML(N) should be proud of being an instrumental part of the process. The follow-up to a consensus NFC award is also something to be appreciated. The attendance record of the prime minister in parliament is particularly stellar when compared specifically to the time when the N League held the office.
The parliament had shortcomings and the government should have to account for that in the next elections but the inability to reform the tax code, for instance, resulted not because of treasury benches soft-pedaling but stark objection by the opposition. Early polls are in no one’s interest. Not the government’s, not new out-of-parliament parties like the PTI and certainly not, if one looks at its troublesome current status, the PML-N. No one is really serious about demands like these. The problem, however, is the propagation in public discourse of ideas that make light of the legislative endeavour. The political class should show some institutional activism and preserve the sanctity of parliament.