LAHORE - It was discovered during Thursday’s Assembly proceedings that Punjab Minister for Prosecution Ch Zaheeruddin Ahmad has surely the knack of making the, otherwise, well-composed lawmakers laugh on the Assembly floor. Opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz burst out laughing as the Minister struggled hard in his peculiar style to reproduce a taunting speech earlier made by Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari of the PML-N. Hamza Shehbaz may be a jovial chap in his private life, but he comes to the Assembly with a somber face for understandable reasons though. So, the House witnessed a rare scene of his public laughing on the Assembly floor thanks to Ch Zaheer’s so-far undiscovered talent.

Even Mr Leghari could not help laughing over Minister’s brilliant mimicry. He also clapped at Minister’s performance enthusiastically as he finished his comedy act.

A theatrical performance by six PML-N lawmakers was also worth watching. It was a moment of joy for them as they had come to the Assembly after undergoing a rigorous punishment awarded by the Assembly Speaker. During the last budget session, they sat outside the Assembly building for a week as a token of protest against Speaker’s decision banning their entry into the House.

They had been charged of creating rowdy scenes inside the Assembly during Finance Minister’s budget speech.

Some of them wearing traditional turban and carrying posters with Shehbaz Sharif’s picture, they entered the House together from one side. Instead of sitting on the Opposition Benches, they headed straight towards Speaker’s dice chanting slogans. They stood in a row just in front of the Speaker holding pictures of their leader. It was a virtual red rag to the bull, but Ch Parvez Elahi had perhaps banished all thoughts of revenge from his mind as he came to chair Thursday’s session. Or, may be, the Speaker had just got used to the usual hurly-burly of the House. Unlike his previous conduct, he did not give a damn to it.

But some may even interpret Speaker’s new-found magnanimity as lawmaker’s failure to prompt the Chair into ‘action’.

Seeing the Speaker unmoved by their performance, they left the House in just one minute from the other side chanting slogans yet again. 

When the law and order debate in the House was at full swing, an unusual sound of desk thumbing coming from Speaker’s box attracted quite a few reporters sitting in the Press Gallery. A person sitting in the official gallery or Speaker’s box is not supposed to show his or her emotions over any activity taking place inside the House. But Saira Afzal Tarar and Saood Majeed of the PML-N could not help applaud Mr Awais Leghari and other party legislators as they spoke on the ‘law and order situation’.

The two PML-N stalwarts infact are contesting Senate by-election and it was a good opportunity for them to come to the Assembly for canvassing. PTI candidates, Waleed Iqbal and Seemi Ezdi were also present in the Speaker’s box at the same time, but they did not resort to clapping or desk thumbing. When the session was over, the Senate candidates had meetings with the Assembly members belonging to all the parties. 

On a serious note, the PML-N lawmakers on Thursday got yet another reminder from the Speaker that from now onwards he would not entertain any request coming from them to speak on a point of order if they were not found sitting on their designated benches. But yesterday, he relaxed the rules for a day and allowed them to speak from, wherever, they were sitting. Rule 201 of the Assembly Rules of Procedures regarding mode of addressing the Speaker is pretty much clear about it.

Not only this, the Speaker also allowed the Opposition to initiate debate on the law and order situation instead of taking up the Assembly Question Hour.

Ch Parvez Elahi gave this relaxation despite opposition from the Law Minister Muhammad Basharat Raja who also wanted the Opposition members to make a formal request to the Chair in this regard.

Notwithstanding this conciliatory gesture from the Speaker, the Opposition members brought up other issues in their speeches other than the law and order problem. Also, Hamza Shehbaz who was supposed to kick start the debate opted not to speak on the subject. He asked Mr Awais Leghari to take the lead instead, but the lawmaker from DG Khan had nothing to state on the law and order situation.

Taking this opportunity, Awais preferred to speak on NAB’s lack of expertise to investigate the white collar crime.

Speaking in context of party president Shehbaz Sharif’s detention by the anti-graft body, Leghari pleaded that NAB laws should be reviewed. But he remained unmindful of the fact that by taking this plea he was indirectly admitting that his leader Shehbaz Sharif was being investigated by the NAB in a white collar crime.

Provincial Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal later countered the PML-N legislator by stating that the NAB laws Mr Leghari was referring to were in fact framed when his party was in power.