Does political power dominate over the transparency of the governance system in Pakistan?
Islamabad: Whether its lack of public trust prevails in the transparency of the governance system or public strong endorsement to political power, an estimated 78.6 percent citizens approached members of the Parliament for passes to witness Parliamentary proceedings during the past one year and 21.3 percent availed the online facility.
According to the data received by The Reporters under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2020, a total of 2,665 citizens witnessed the Parliamentary proceedings between October 2019 and September 2020; of which only 570 citizens availed the online facility for obtaining visiting gallery passes.
It is to mention here that National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar had inaugurated a “Common Man’s Gallery” on October 5, 2019 to increase public contact with their political representatives in the Parliament. However, the official data shows that a large majority still approaches members of Parliament for obtaining passes to witness NA proceedings.
A total of 2,665 citizens witnessed the Parliamentary proceedings between October, 2019 and September, 2020; of which only 570 citizens availed the online facility for obtaining Gallery passes
While inaugurating the “Common Man’s Gallery”, Asad Qaisar had said that any citizen of Pakistan can witness the proceedings of the Lower House without any reference of the public representative. The Speaker had further said that the initiative will help people come into contact with their public representatives.
Earlier, the citizens who wanted to witness the Parliamentary proceedings were required to have reference to the member National Assembly for the issuance of the visiting gallery pass.
Meanwhile, according to the document, the process of issuing the Visiting Gallery pass on the recommendation of the elected members of the Parliament is also going on.
Right activists say public mistrust in the transparency of the system can be a factor behind public rare utilization of this online facility.
The document further reveals that 2,665 citizens belonging to different districts of Pakistan visited the Parliament House during the respective period.
The ‘Common Man’s Gallery’ has capacity to accommodate at least 50 people. Moreover, a well-equipped reception is also established at the entrance of the Parliament House to assist the common people visiting the Parliament.
Dos & Don’ts for Visiting the Parliament
Every citizen of Pakistan can avail this online facility to get a pass for the visiting gallery. However, he/she has to follow certain instructions. The pass for the Gallery will be issued to persons holding original CNIC; pass is not transferable; original CNIC will be checked through the NADRA verification system; entry is through Gate No 5, no other gate can be used for entry; any infringement will render the persons concerned liable to action against them; visitors are not permitted to take phone, tape recorders and other recording instruments, arms, umbrellas, cameras, sticks, handbags, books; smoking, clapping, and raising of slogans is prohibited. Entry of visitors in the areas other than the Gallery is prohibited.
It is increasingly recognized in public that the relationship between trust and transparency in Pakistan is not straightforward. Right activists say public mistrust in the transparency of the system can be a factor behind public less utilization of this online facility. They also raise a question: Who will combat public mistrust in the governance system?