There is something almost heartwarming about reports that 84 lawmakers were barred from attending the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday 17th October. This comes a day after the Election Commission of Pakistan suspended them for failing to submit the required statements of their assets and liabilities. This is a move that is long overdue and the ECP is to be applauded for finally putting its foot down. Out of that number 74 were from the ruling PML-N, six from the PTI, two from the PPP and two from the PML-Zia. It will be recalled that on Monday 16th October the ECP took the sword to 271 legislators for failing to fill in the assets declaration and as a result the federal parliament had to be suspended for lack of a quorum. All of those disbarred have been notified that they would cease to function as legislators with immediate effect and would remain disbarred until they had completed — credibly — the relevant paperwork.
It matters not a jot that the provincial and federal assemblies are temporarily gutted as a result of the ECP dropping the hammer. The elected members of all the assemblies are required to fill in the register of their assets and liabilities, all of them and without exception. There have been instances in the past where some of the returns were laughable, manifestly false and fabricated. In short, the respondents lied to the ECP and lied repeatedly year on year. Many should have been disqualified years ago.
With a battle royal raging as to what assets and liabilities some of the leading politicians have now or had in the past this is a matter of the utmost importance. The political stables have long needed a cleanup. Not only should the MPAs and MNAs be excluded from the assemblies they should have all benefits and allowances suspended as well, again until such time as they satisfy a basic condition for holding office. Thus far there are 905 members of parliament and the provincial assemblies that have done their duty. We will welcome back those members now rusticated when they have done theirs. We await developments.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2017.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.