ISLAMABAD - It was nobody but Shah Mehmood Qureshi who on Wednesday succeeded in creating some fissures in the ranks of the largely united Parliament.
Although the joint session of Parliament was aimed at shoring up support for beleaguered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif against Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri, yet cracks seemed visible soon after Shah Mehmod Qureshi managed to address the house.
Stepping into the hall, Qureshi was greeted with cries of ‘shame’, ‘shame’ apparently because PTI lawmakers attended the session despite submitting resignations to the Speaker National Assembly.
In an effort to deprive Qureshi of the chance to speak on the floor, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq adjourned proceedings of the house to meet again after 20 minutes soon after the PTI’s Vice Chairman stood up and requested the speaker for turning his mike on.
But it was Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah, who personally requested the Speaker to give chance to the PTI’s lawmaker to speak to the house. This is what Qureshi badly needed as opposition forces including Aftab Sherpao suggested that no PTI MNA should be given a chance to speak until withdrawing their decision of resignations.
The PTI leader consumed more than an hour to speak on the floor justifying the movement of PTI and PAT against the government and left the house immediately after finishing his speech.
The moment he stepped out of the house, both treasury and opposition benches started doubting each other with Mehmood Khan Achakzai asking the Opposition Leader to bring signature of PTI leadership that the attack on premises of Parliament and other state buildings was an unconstitutional move.
Even Defense Minister Khwaja Asif expressed his anger over the move to give chance to a member who has sent his resignation to the Speaker arguing that how could a lawmaker address the house after resignation.
JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazal Rehman, the strong proponent of the prime minister, wondered at the move of the Opposition Leader and the Speaker to entertain a member of a party against whom the two houses of Parliament demonstrate unity.
Senator Nabi Bangash of Awami National Party (ANP), meanwhile, came up with an alarming prediction that the stick-wielding protesters at the lawns of National Assembly would soon occupy the entry doors of the house if not tackled with an iron hand.
“These marchers have forced us all to enter the Parliament from backdoors as they have occupied the main entrance. The time is not far when the protesters would storm inside the house. Mark my words and it will happen for sure,” Mr Bangash observed.
The serenity and unity that prevailed in the house was no more after Shah Mehmood Qureshi disappeared after finishing his long speech. The members in the largely united house were spilt apart and looking suspiciously at the role of opposition.
The angry members continued to interrupt everybody who was given a chance to speak. They paid no heed to the requests by Opposition Leader and Speaker asking them to keep order in the house.
Sahibzada Tariqullah of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) even threatened to stage a walkout if he was not allowed to speak by the Speaker and had almost left the house but Minister Sheikh Aftab and some other leaders assured him of meeting his request.
The Speaker was confused whether to choose between Finance Minister Ishaq Dar or Defense Minister Khwaja Asif as both had raised their hands to speak on the floor. But the opposition leader was given the chance as he had to satisfy the house for his decision of letting Qureshi to address the house.
“It is the victory of Parliament that Shah Mehmood Qureshi attended the joint session. He is still member of the house and he can say anything in the house. It is the beauty of democracy,” he said.
Earlier, the house seemed to be giving credence to the allegations of PTI regarding rigging in the election when ANP Senator Zahid Khan dubbed the general election as ‘selection’ arguing that his party in KP could not campaign due to terrorist attacks while other parties were holding massive rallies.
Soon after the house was adjourned, opposition and ruling parties members looked suspiciously at the decision to give chance to the PTI leader deliver a speech. “For the first time this united house witnessed thumping of desks in favour of PTI.
“It was defeat for us,” a PML-N lawmaker whispered to some media persons.