If there is any bill that can transcend politics and find bipartisan support among lawmakers, it would be one which initiates raising their salaries. On this issue, all members of parliament, whether they be of PPP, PTI or PML-N, would be ready to set aside their differences and settle to approve the bill.

Nothing exemplified this more than Wednesday’s session of the Punjab Assembly. The Punjab Assembly, whose sessions often have to end abruptly due to chaos and walk-outs by the opposition, managed to find common ground on legislation which would increase the salaries and perks of its members. After the passage of the bill, the speaker’s salary has jumped from Rs37,000 to Rs200,000 per month and his deputy would now get Rs185,000 instead of Rs35,000. The members (MPAs)’s salaries have been raised from Rs18,000 to Rs80,000 per month and their utility bills entitlement has gone up to Rs200,000 instead of earlier Rs120,000.

The development has received criticism and a lot of the pushback has been from government figures. In a tweet, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his deep disappointment in the Punjab Assembly for raising salaries at a time when Pakistan’s budgets were limited, and Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari tweeted that the raise was “shameful”.

It is certainly irksome that the Punjab Assembly members, who have so far not been able to sort out the discord and chaos within the government and the opposition to pass good legislation, were so easily able to cooperate when it came to a bill which personally benefitted them. There were several issues which are pending and which have not been able to gain traction in the assembly due to daily spats between political parties; the passing of the new law for salaries shows that members can certainly put aside their differences for a cause if they care enough. It is hoped that they now do so for causes which are beneficial for the country as well.

Yet the outrage over increasing of salaries is exaggerated. The salary amount for MPAs was not proportional to the rising inflation in our country, and this amount would not have been enough to sustain a family for a member who might not have generational wealth or any other source of income, especially if he does not hail from Lahore. PTI needs to realise that in the long run, raises will not affect the budget and these austerity measures are mostly performative.