Bad Optics

After the Punjab Assembly, members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly have also taken oath. The beginning of formal parliamentary proceedings, after the chaos that followed the February 8 polls, was a much-awaited event. But visuals from both the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies in the opening sessions scream the ill-cultured politics of polarisation grappling the country. The chaotic swearing-in reflects the tense political climate in KP following the general elections. Sloganeering and cheering support for respective parties is better displayed in streets and in times that are allocated for campaigning and rallying.

The decorum of the assembly floor tarnishes when members opt to shout out their parties’ politics instead of putting public service and their sacred administrative role above party allegiances. The members of the house bear a great responsibility towards their country and people. On the oath-taking day, the spirit of humility and dedication towards people’s welfare must show. Instead, it is disappointing to see mini-protests or cheering one’s party and calling names to others. This attitude of the elected representatives erodes public trust in the deliverability of the house.

Despite the disruptions caused by protests and riots, the newly elected representatives took their oaths, marking a significant step in the formation of the provincial government. However, the ruckus and confrontations during the session underscore the challenges that lie ahead in maintaining order and stability in the assembly. The nomination of candidates for key positions, such as the speaker and deputy speaker, signals the beginning of formal proceedings of the provincial assembly.

Even in the past, we have seen sessions hijacked on account of petty political differences. The very sessions that are supposed to discuss, deliberate, and finalise policies for the public good are often wasted in the name of party politics. Though agreement is not always desirable and democracy thrives on the concept of respectful disagreement and opposition, the power of polarisation to turn every meaningful debate into a win-or-lose situation is unhealthy politics, to say the least. It is reasonable to expect and ask the members of assemblies to act with political maturity, at least within the confines of the assembly floor.

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