By now, even the people with little interest in political affairs have realized that the Imran government has set no policy goals for itself. It does not feel motivated to take command and responsibility of national security affairs; “institutions” deal with the nitty-gritty of them. The task of fixing our economy has also been outsourced to IMF-recommended technocrats. The prime minister and his team only appear sustaining the appearances of an ambivalent brand of “democracy”. Parliamentary sessions of the national assembly and the Senate are merely held to show the said form as if alive and kicking.

You cannot justify the existence of these two houses, however, without setting any legislative agenda for them. For the past one month the Senate had been “in session.” But the government miserably failed to imagine any engaging business for it.

On average the Senate has been holding three sittings in a week; it goes on two-day break on Wednesdays and Thursdays. These two days are counted as “working days,” to help the government in meeting the constitutional obligation of holding at least 110 sittings of the upper house of parliament in a parliamentary year.

As if trivialities related to the ongoing Senate “session” were not enough to exasperate, the government had suddenly decided to summon the national assembly session as well. The notification for its summoning was released Tuesday night. That forced parliamentary reporters to scratch their heads and to find out the “real reason” for asking the national assembly to meet in haste.

Eventually, one felt really cheated after discovering that the sole purpose of summoning the national assembly session was simply to get the shelf life of two Ordinances extended for another 120 days.

One of these Ordinances had established the China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority. The idea was to furnish “one window” for speedy execution of the CPEC related projects.

The Ordinance, establishing the said authority, could easily be converted into an appropriate law, duly approved by both the houses of parliament. After all, both the PPP and the PML-N had loudly owned the CPEC. To facilitate speedy execution of the projects conceived under its umbrella, they would have supported the idea of establishing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority, without much ado.

Only a few weeks ago, both these parties took not more than 12 minutes to vote for a highly significant law that settled the complicated issue of appointing the Services’ Chiefs and fixing their tenure.

Before leaving his office, former Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had conveniently passed the burden of passing the said law to “honorable members of an elected parliament.” Doing this, he might have thought that our viciously divided parliament would fail to evolve consensus on a potentially explosive issue.

By extending “unconditional support” to the government, without even reading the draft of the proposed law on the said issue, the PML-N had certainly surprised the world. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari did attempt to assert the weight of an elected parliament by suggesting some insignificant amendments to the government proposed law. Asif Ali Zardari clipped his wings, however, and he failed to deliver in the end.

Even from the Senate, where the opposition parties hold a brute majority, the law related to the appointments of Services’ Chiefs and fixing rules for extending their tenure was also passed with unprecedented speed.

Both the main opposition parties would surely have gone with the cooperation-binge, if the government had approached them for speedy passage of the law, facilitating establishment of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority. The government felt reluctant to approach them for unknown reasons.

Perhaps the speedy conversion of the CPEC-related Ordinance to an appropriate law, duly passed by both the house of parliament, was doubly required, if you keep in mind that during her recent visit to Islamabad, a senior official of the US State Department, Ms. Alice Wells, had loudly questioned the utility and validity of the CPEC. With total support of the opposition parties, the PTI government could have clearly conveyed to Washington that CPEC savoured the national consensus and no government in Pakistan could dare to abandon it to please its “Frenemies” in the USA.

At the outset of Thursday-sitting, Raja Pervez Ashraf, a former prime minister from PPP benches stood to express annoyance over the practice of legislating through Ordinances issued from the President’s Office. Doing this, he sounded but merely point scoring and seemed terribly lacking the imagination for highlighting the need of establishing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority, through an appropriate law that could have been passed by both the houses of parliament with an overwhelming-looking consensus.

After expressing his annoyance, he and the rest of opposition legislators walked out of the house. Taking advantage of their absence the government rushed to seek a speedy approval for extending the shelf life of not one but two ordinances. The second Ordinance had amended some tax related laws that the PTI government desperately needed to improve revenue collection. In the process, the government also laid, formally, four other ordinances before the national assembly and prevented their “rejection” by the opposition-dominated Senate.

After delivering the “needful”, the national assembly could not think of any other engaging business. It was adjourned to meet again on Friday morning. Even the day after, the national assembly would not be required to move on a substantive agenda. The government would still want to stretch the session in the name of Kashmir.

We have been observing Feb.5 as the “Kashmir Day” since decades. The government would want to continue with the tradition by “activating” the national assembly on the issue of Kashmir this year. To express solidarity with Kashmiris, the government intends to put a resolution before the national assembly. That will create the space for bombastic speeches on Kashmir. They will certainly sound more passionate in the context of brutality that Modi government had brought to Indian Occupied Kashmir with its decisions taken on August 5, 2019.

The historic and established “autonomy” of Kashmir was bulldozed on that day. Areas, which comprised the State of Jammu and Kashmir, throughout the British Raj and were kept intact since 1947, even under the Indian occupation, were split in two “provinces.” Both these provinces had also been declared the “Union Territories,” directly run by New Delhi, without any tiers of the local and provincial governments.

Eight million Kashmiris are yet allowed to access the Internet. All of their political and civil society representatives, including those historically serving India as the slavish lackeys, had been sent to jails.

Passionate speeches in the national assembly of Pakistan are surely not enough to alleviate the pain of besieged Kashmiris. But our parliament desperately needs to prove its utility and the pain of Kashmiris can provide the breathing air to it.