PESHAWAR: The privilege motions tabled in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly largely concern mundane matters related to personal grievances of the lawmakers instead of highlighting important issues.
Twenty-six members of treasury and opposition benches tabled a total of 20 privilege motions in the first parliamentary year of the current provincial assembly, of which 16 were referred to the privilege committee. Four motions were dropped by the movers while the rest had been kept pending.
Fifteen privilege motions that have been referred to the committee are related to the character assassination of the members concerned by government officials and journalists. Only one motion, moved by Azam Khan Durrani, is related to utilisation of funds in his constituency.
However, there are instances, which show that the move has been deliberately unleashed by the official machinery to discredit the elected representatives and undermine their role in the day to day affairs of the government departments.
In the last session of the parliamentary year, Fazal Elahi, parliamentary secretary on environment, tabled motion against secretary environment. The motion, which was referred to the committee, said that the secretary expelled him from a meeting, held to discuss the issues related to forests.
He claimed that Ishtiaq Urmar, special assistant to the chief minister on environment, had formally invited him to the meeting.According to him, the secretary of environment said that there were thousands of parliamentary secretaries in the province and they couldn’t tolerate them. “Therefore you should leave this meeting,” he quoted the secretary as telling him in his motion.
Section 53 of the rules of procedure says a member may raise a question involving a breach of privilege of a member, speaker, assembly or committee of the assembly, with the consent of the speaker.
The members of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly are increasingly using this vital tool for personal grievances like alleged misbehaviour of police constables and junior officers of the education department, etc with them.
Javed Nasim, a member of the ruling PTI, in his motion complained that two police constables stopped him at a checkpoint in the city and asked him to show his national identity card.
“Despite introduction, the constables insisted on seeing my identity card and subjected me to body KP lawmakers using privilege motions to resolve trivial issues search. Being an elected representative my privilege has been breached therefore this motion should go to the committee,” he demanded. Speaker put the motion before the house and it was unanimously referred to the committee on April 17.
MPA Shah Faisal of PTI and Mufti Fazal Ghafoor of JUI-F have tabled motions against station house officer and district police officer of Hangu and SHO Daggar, Buner respectively. They also complained of rude behaviour of the police officials and the motions were referred to the committee.
The privilege motion of MPA Munawar Khan of JUI against alleged misbehaviour of district education officer Lakki Marwat has been put up before the committee.
MPA Mohammad Ali of JI from Upper Dir has tabled three privilege motions against the officers of forest department and secretary environment. Three privilege motions are related to journalists, newspapers and a private TV channel.
Mohammad Ali Shah Bacha, the parliamentary secretary of PPP, blamed MPAs for the embarrassing situation, saying majority of the lawmakers, especially members of the ruling party, were inexperienced. “It happens because of the childish behaviour of the members,” he remarked.
Anisa Zeb of QWP said that bureaucracy always looked in that direction where powers were laid. “In present situation they (bureaucrats) know that power stemmed from Bani Gala, not Peshawar that is why the MPAs are mistreated,” she said, adding that it was not a positive sign to expel an elected parliamentary secretary from meeting.
She said that there was intolerance in society and lack of information among the MPAs about their rights and privileges. The members lacked skill how to tackle situation therefore they considered every petty issue as breach of privilege, she added.
MPA Syed Jafar Shah of ANP said that politicians were intentionally discredited and officers were directed to undermine the lawmakers. He admitted some weaknesses on the part of legislators but said that bureaucracy was directed to ignore MPAs.