LAHORE  -   Punjab Assembly members belonging both to the treasury and the opposition established on Wednesday that ideology is no consideration for them and they can conveniently join hands to get financial benefits for themselves. The unanimous adoption of a bill moved jointly by legislators belonging to the PTI, PML-N and the PPP shows that for them their personal interests matter more than the plight of their voters.

After the adoption of the bill by the 371-member legislature it has become manifest that Aleem Khans, Hamzas, Pervaiz Elahis and Buzdars are on the same page and the differences they feign they have on issues are nothing but hallucination.

The chief minister, whose only qualification is that he hails from the province’s most backward region, gets a six-fold raise in salary and benefits, speaker, deputy speaker three fold and other members two fold.

In such a situation Prime Minister Imran Khan’s reaction on the move would be appreciated by public at large.

He is reported to have expressed “extreme disappointment” at the new bill, which requires governor’s assent to become effective. He said in a tweet: “I am extremely disappointed by decision of Punjab Assembly to raise pays and privileges of MPAs, ministers and especially the chief minister.”

The prime minister further said that such measures may have been justified once “prosperity returns to Pakistan ... but now, when we do not have resources to provide basic amenities to all our people, this is untenable.”

(There are reports that the premier has directed the Punjab governor not to approve the bill).

Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry also commented on the situation and said its seems that the Punjab government is unaware of the prime minister and the government’s austerity policies, “otherwise such sham exercises of awarding huge benefits to themselves would not have happened.”

The prime minister’s reaction is in line with a saying of Holy Prophet (PBUH) which means the leader of a nation is its servant.

In the present era the elected representatives are the leaders of the nation. They are supposed to do all they can to solve the problems of their voters. When the voters find it difficult to pay their inflated bills, there is no justification for their so-called leaders to give themselves such a big raise in salaries and benefits.

The initiative has exposed the yawning gulf between the electors and the elected.

There are no two opinions that politics has been turned into an industry, and politicians invest huge amounts in electioneering to get elected and be able to become influential in their respective regions. The system is such that the police follow the recommendations of the elected representatives, even if they are unjustified. The government departments give weightage to the elected representatives’ opinion in recruitments.

The political opponents of a sitting legislator have to face a tough time during the latter’s incumbency.

The raise in the salaries and benefits of the legislators means that there is price hike in the province. This being so, every employee of the provincial government also deserves an equal raise. And if they have to be compensated, people at large should also be given an equal relief so that the price hike doesn’t bite them.

But the on-ground situation is totally different.

For the common mortal there is unbearable price hike.

The Punjab Assembly has to meet only for 100 days a year. This means our worthy representatives get 265 days off.

Many MPs don’t attend the session even for 100 days. Their honourable colleagues mark their attendance on the prescribed register. Thus, even their truancy is paid.

The new bill has also exposed lack of coordination among the ruling coalition leaders. Had the provincial leaders informed the prime minister about the move in time, they would have been directed to kill it immediately. As a result, they would not have faced the kind of embarrassment they would have to face now after the top man’s intervention.