All across the democratic world, the opposition always enforces a parliamentary session, primarily for pushing the government to a defensive corner. Rubbing in the most burning issue, agitating the mass of people, it vigorously pursues assuaging answers. Most governments in countries like Pakistan seriously lack the capacity to furnish them and thus fear a session enforced by the opposition.

Trust the thick skin of the PTI government, however. It certainly showed the enviable audacity for dismissively dealing with issues that the opposition senators had raised during two sittings of an enforced session of the Senate.

At the end of it Monday evening, the duo of youthful ministers, Omar Ayub and Hammad Azher, were rather able to forcefully sell the story that things were not so gloomy in Pakistan. Instead of feeling ashamed over the “ruthless incapacity” that the PPP and the PML-N presumably displayed during their turns in the government, their representatives in the upper house of parliament keep summoning the Senate sessions, essentially to waste time in trivial point scoring.

Both the ministers could dare not deny the reality that since the advent of the PTI government in August 2018 the poor and marginalized sections of our society were finding it extremely difficult to survive. The rate of inflation and unemployment had certainly reached the unbearable limits and these two trends were also dampening the feel-good mood among the vast majority of salaried and middle class persons. Instead of spinning the hope-inducing stories, both the youthful ministers kept focused on identifying “the villain,” responsible for the current appearances of doom and gloom.

Ishaq Dar, the finance minister of Nawaz Sharif, remained their bête noire. They hold him exclusively responsible for dismal mode on our economic scene these days. His “obsession” to keep the value of Pak Rupee “artificially high” against a US dollar was projected as the major sin. To maintain the same, he was also accused of squandering a huge sum of 24 billion US dollars during his 4-year tenure.

Both the ministers also kept insisting that the PML-N government adopted an expedient approach when it came to fix the rates of electricity and gas. It acted deaf to market dynamics to please its so-called vote bank. As if the “reckless fiscal management” were not enough, the same government also chased “mega projects,” which were just not sustainable for resource-less countries like Pakistan.

Omar Ayub and Hammad Azher kept drumming the PTI claim that it inherited a near-bankrupt treasury. Its formative months were consumed in averting default. After averting the same with SOS efforts, it switched the focus on prudent management. Instead of pleasing the public with dubious and reckless finance management, the PTI government preferred to adjust with the realities of market-driven dynamics. Pakistan under its command was walking on a painful route of course correction. That remains the one and only path, however, for recovering and stabilizing the economy. Eventually, it would certainly lead to prosperity.

Hammad Azher also flaunted some data to vend the story that the rate of inflation had already begun to slip down and exports were showing tremendous growth. Omar Ayub, however, remained reluctant to commit that the price of electricity would at least stay at the current level.

Both the youthful ministers certainly got away with audacious spinning of feel-good stories due to visibly sloppy and laidback conduct that the number-strong opposition had adopted throughout two sittings of the session, they had enforced upon the government.

Instead of focusing on a specific issue of urgent public interest, its senators had set a six-point agenda to deliver windy speeches. Starting from the practice of enforcing laws by issuing the presidential ordinance, they also wanted to discuss the issues of Kashmir, the alleged victimization of the opposition, gas and power scarcity, the price hike and the increase of crimes against children in the same session.

Each item on their agenda surely deserved focused discussion. But they generously agreed to club all of them and felt too good for delivering speeches, which wanted to touch each item put on the six-point agenda.

On average, each of the opposition senators spoke for around 15 minutes. The time allotted to them could have been intelligently used to highlight specific issues, if the senators had done some homework. With obvious lack of it, all of them preferred to discuss all the agenda items in a desultory manner.

Not enough members were present on the opposition benches as well; it rather provoked a MQM senator, Mian Atiq, to point out the quorum at one point. The opposition had numbers but not the vigor and coordination.

Winding up the desultory speeches on multiple issues, the duo of youthful ministers preferred to exclusively focus on economic issues. It surely helped them to promote the feel-good spinning at the end of a Senate session that the opposition had enforced to ‘embarrass’ the government.

Parliamentary reporters were given to imagine as if the opposition senators would force the government to furnish the latest on its negotiations with the IMF. They also expected firm answers on a highly relevant question as to why the prices of petroleum products were yet not matching their global rates, that too under a government, which brags of diligently respecting the market dynamics.  Also required was some firm commitment, when it comes to the rate of electricity.

Staying focused on these questions, the opposition senators could have forced the government to send Dr. Hafiz Sheikh to the Senate. After all, the all-powerful advisor on Finance was also compelled to address a national assembly sitting last month to defend the policies he aggressively pursues, almost singlehandedly.

The opposition could have deputed someone from its ranks to articulate all the pertinent questions related to our economic scene at the outset of the Senate session. Only after Hafiz Sheikh’s answers, the rest of them should have moved on to pose fresh questions while referring to his speech. That’s how the “general discussion” on substantive issues is held in each parliament of the world.

We are experiencing a unique brand of parliamentary democracy, however. And our rudderless opposition is equally responsible for promoting and sustaining the said brand.