Representation: A responsibility not a privilege

Monday, 09 April 2018 03:04 Written by  Read 49 times

As a major pillar of the state, the bicameral National Assembly, especially Wolesi Jirga or the lower house of Parliament, has important responsibilities towards citizens. In addition to legislation of laws, members of Wolesi Jirga are duty bound to oversee government performance, and make sure the voices of ordinary citizens are heard by top government officials. However, the sitting Wolesi Jirga whose legal term has ended way earlier has failed to fulfill its duties. The majority of the lawmakers not only have not properly represented their constituents, they were also not attending the sessions of Wolesi Jirga, even to an extent that sometimes attendance sheet is read out like at a school class to determine which lawmakers are absent, a move that has also failed to increase participation.
Speaking at the plenary session of Wolesi Jirga, a lawmaker revealed on Saturday that 22 members of Wolesi Jirga continue to enjoy all privileges despite being permanent absentees, while 33 other lawmakers have never talked and expressed their opinions in Wolesi Jirga over the last seven years. He added that these legislators have received all their privileges, but have never really shown up at Wolesi Jirga to represent their people.
Most surprisingly, an individual whose main duty is to represent people and make laws is not able to opine only once in seven years of his work as parliamentarian, especially in a country like Afghanistan where the majority of its citizens are grappling with numerous problems. These “excellencies” are representatives of their pockets only. They view representation as a privilege rather than a responsibility, and a source of income earned through illegal means, for which no one can hold them accountable. The lack of rule of law has also allowed them to receive privileges without having any obligations, which is in clear contradiction with Afghanistan’s constitution. Even they have modified Wolesi Jirga’s Internal Rules of Procedure and the qualification criteria for candidacy as required by their interests.
The incumbent legislative period of Wolesi Jirga should be a lesson for Afghan people and therefore they should be very careful in the upcoming election. Voting for individuals, who cannot represent their people, on the basis of ethnicity, language, religion or whatever other consideration is not only a self-betrayal, but also that of the entire nation. Those, who vote for such people, are complicit in all the wrongdoings of the lawmakers, because the candidates are elected through their votes to become members of Wolesi Jirga. At least Wolesi Jirga whose members are elected through the direct, secret vote of people should be the “real house of people”.


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