Altruism, not selfishness, is the hallmark of parliamentarians

Published: 05:21 PM, 1 Feb, 2020
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Leaders of a nation are expected to be altruistic in their approach and keep the problems and difficulties of the common man ahead of their own. Also, they work out such policies as could help the electorate steer out of their troubles as early as possible.

But in our country it has been established many a time that leaders have a selfish approach and they focus all their energies in addressing their own problems, leaving the ordinary beings to the mercy of circumstance.

The latest example of this selfishness was reported by a section of the media on Saturday.

At a time when the common man is finding it difficult to make ends meet because of the unbridled price hike, some members of parliament have submitted a draft bill in Senate Secretariat to seek up to 400 percent raise in the salaries of Senate Chairman, Deputy Chairman, NA Speaker and Deputy Speaker and 100 percent raise to all MNAs and Senators.

 They have also sought raise in travelling allowance for all MPs and their families.

According to the bill’s statement of objects and reasons, price hike and devaluation have affected the Chairman, Speaker, Deputy Chairman, Deputy Speaker and all members of Parliament “alongside general public”.

The bill, which has already been referred to the ministries of parliamentary affairs and finance for their input, seeks increase in existing salary of Senate Chairman and NA Speaker from Rs250,000 to 870,000.

It also calls for increase in the salaries of the Senate Deputy Chairman and NA Deputy Speaker from existing Rs185,000 to Rs829,000.

There is also a call for increase in the salaries of Senators and MNAs from existing Rs150,000 to Rs300,000.

According to the report, the bill also seeks amendment to the existing statutes to allow each MP entitlement for 20 business class open return air tickers from the airport nearest to the constituency to Islamabad. The bill says that the spouse and children up to 18 years of age of the Senator/MNA can also utilise these tickets for travelling within the country.

The question is what has the elected representatives done to save the electorates from the effects of price hike that they say has affected them? And if they have failed to do anything to address their plight, is there any justification to seek a raise for themselves?

It goes without saying that whenever the common man seeks relief they are advised to be patient and wait for the better days for which successive governments say they are doing their best. The practice has been going on during all periods but so far the steps promised to the electorates have not materialized. A government goes and the next setup comes in without any material change in people’s lives.

Shouldn’t the leaders be asked why they are seeking for themselves what is not available to their followers?

Bureaucrats are also demanding raise in their salaries. Aren’t they justified in making this demand?

Nobody should forget that inadequate salaries are also an important factor behind the rampant corruption in society. Nothing moves unless the relevant palms are greased.

(A business tycoon had admitted in a TV interview that bribery plays an important role in getting thing done in government offices. He had admitted that he puts ‘wheels’ to the issues he wants done – a term he used for money).  

Although it will be wrong to say that corruption will vanish with the raise in bureaucrats’ salaries, the role of this most important factor should not be underestimated.

Already the nation has had to face enormous embarrassment because of a report that said that even large number of gazetted officers have been receiving stipend from the Benazir Income Support Programme, a project meant only for the poor.

Maybe some of the officers indulged in this corrupt practice to satiate their greed for money, there may also be others who were genuinely deserving cases.

All discussed above means that the parliamentarians should pay more attention to people’s sufferings and the deteriorating situation of society. Only then will they be coming up to the expectations of their followers. Just building castles in the air without practical steps shatters the dreams of their followers.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.