Collective Failure

The much anticipated Raja Zafarul Haq led inquiry committee report finally came to fore soon after the 23-day long exasperating sit-in protest by a group of religious parties at Faizabad interchange ended in dramatic fashion. The three member inquiry committee was setup earlier on directions of PML-N chief to identify those responsible for the amendment that forced a group of religious parties to stage Dharna, which later on snowballed into nationwide crisis.

The committee report, major portion of which is now in public domain, points out two ministers’ role who had prepared the draft at the committee level. The report says that the person who was tasked to finalize the draft had admitted that it was his primary responsibility to see that the draft does not contain anything controversial but somehow he felt that he could not perform his duty despite his legal acumen, experience and command of language.

Quoting Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s statement the report says that Rehman said, “Basically we were collectively responsible for not doing our duty during the debate on the affidavit”. “We have a feeling that people are expecting action against those who changed the affirmation and caused this problem. In light of the above, we suggest that action must be taken against those responsible but we leave it to your vision and good sense”, the report said.

As per the tale-piece of the report, the members of the probe committee while sensing the public anger had suggested the party leadership that action must be taken against those responsible. The question is if the probe committee had foreseen and ‘most probably’ forewarned the party leadership about the possible dangers of a backlash then why did they remain so ignorant and let the situation to snowball into an unmanageable crisis?

And the most intriguing question is that the 342 member house (National Assembly) and 180 members of the Senate who are supposed to make and amend the laws have miserably failed to identify this problem in the first place when the bill was presented in both houses. On the other hand legislators and senators of religious parties, excluding Senator Maulana Hafiz Hamdullah, too failed to discharge their duties. It seemed that none of the parliamentarians and senators has ever bothered to have a cursory look into draft matter of the bill. The Parliamentarians’ apathy and lack of interest in debating the bills has raised serious questions regarding the usefulness of the bicameral legislature. In bicameral legislature bills are properly debated to ensure better legislation but if the legislature remains incognizant of its responsibilities then it is for sure that such kind of errors, omissions and lacunae in the law would be the hall-mark of the legislative process.

The Opposition’s role is to question the government of the day and hold them accountable to the public but its negligence and role in this particular case has been dismal. Legislators hailing from opposition benches might have gone through the each and every paragraph and sentence of the amendments made in the Electoral bill but nobody, as it seems, has taken the pains to highlight the loopholes in the highly controversial amendment in the affidavit. So it is a sort of collective failure as both the houses have failed in fulfilling their duties but how come the legislators, who continue to point fingers and lay blame on government, can absolve themselves of their responsibilities.

Indeed the Khatm-e-Nabuwat clause has been restored back in its original form but given the crucial nature of the issue a timely action against the ‘perpetrators’ might have normalized everything swiftly. Now that the report would be formally presented to PML-N chief it is yet to be seen what decision the party would take to sort out the problem once and for all.

About Arif Qureshi

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