Tuesday was one of the more productive sessions of the Punjab Assembly, a feature that was becoming increasingly rare to see with both opposition and treasury benches more interested in ridiculing one another and settling personal and political scores, rather than indulge in law-making to benefit the people. The provincial assembly passed four resolutions out of five on the agenda, pertaining to issues of public interest; following the agenda and not side-tracking in a timely fashion is something rarely seen in the houses of parliament. The motions, though not really the most pressing – banning the Hindi dubbing of Cartoon Network or naming an eye hospital in honour of someone are not of critical importance – do indicate that our law-makers can accomplish a lot when interested.

However, given the fact that this productive session was only possible because the assembly failed to meet the quorum – out of total attendance of 371, roughly 54 were present within the session – there needs to be more effort by the law-makers still to do their jobs more effectively. Most of the loud rambunctious members were not even in the halls, leaving for fewer debates or fights on key issues. While the discussions (the term being used loosely here) on key issues in provincial assemblies often devolve into shouting matches or worse, both opposition and treasury benches need to legislate based on consensus and debate, and often the arguments within are key to the people being represented by the parliamentarians. While the absence of most members resulted in quick decision-making, this is not a culture that should be endorsed, simply because there is no polarity of viewpoints without enough numbers present in the house.

Having said that, the Punjab Assembly seems to be on a much better path than other provincial assemblies, the Sindh Assembly in particular, with its recent debacle with the comments hurled by MPA Imdad Pitafi against a female member of the house, Nusrat Abbasi. The entire episode, from the misogynist remarks to Ms Abbasi having to threaten self-immolation outside the provincial assembly for Pitafi to issue an apology leaves behind a sour taste, and makes one wonder whether our representatives are actually fit to sit in the august houses of parliament. Political discourse and discussion are to be encouraged in all houses, but should never devolve into the uglier scenes we are used to seeing. The Private Members’ Day in Punjab Assembly, if nothing else, was a source of hope for those that believe their representatives are capable of keeping their emotions in check and pass resolutions – of varying significance – in the interest of their perspective on public good. One can only hope that the future brings more of the same.