Of late, researchers working fulltime to collect date and analyze it for institutions like the Pakistan Statistical Bureau and the State Bank of Pakistan have consistently been projecting a depressing state of our economy. The cold date eventually forced the Imran government to guardedly admit that the rate of inflation was indeed rushing up to unbearable limits. Almost on daily basis, thousands of Pakistanis anxiously feel being pushed down to poverty line and there seems no hope.

In this season of frightening doom and gloom, I deeply feel sorry for those of my fellow citizens who might have switched on their television sets to eagerly watch live coverage of Tuesday sitting of the national assembly.

The opposition had forced the government to devote this sitting to exclusively discuss the widespread agony that the rate of inflation coupled with perennial slowing down of the economy had triggered with the advent of Imran government in August 2018.

People watching the live coverage must have felt extremely disappointed. Instead of focusing upon the pain of the wretched of our earth with genuine concern and sympathy, “our representatives” preferred to squander the sitting in petty point scoring and mutual blame passing. Sitting in the press gallery, I mostly felt as if watching a form of theatre where vulgar jokes are attempted to make us laugh and forget the bitter realities of everyday life.

Being the front ranking leader of the major opposition party, the PML-N, Khawaja Asif started the discussion. He delivered a lengthy speech to highlight the dismal-looking state of Pakistan’s economy, but refrained from suggesting any solution to it.

The operative part of his speech rather wanted to convince us that his party would not want to remove the Imran government, “through any conspiracy.” It remains committed to manage “change,” by strictly adhering to rules of the power games, clearly prescribed in the Constitution of Pakistan.

Doing this, Khawaja Asif sounded visibly “defensive.” For many months, he is being perceived as the most trusted rather key operative, covertly meeting top representatives of the powers that be to manage the launch of Shahbaz Sharif to prime minister’s house via the so-called “in-house change.” Tuesday, he mostly spent his energy to dispel the stories of “a deal,” attributed to his party.

Hammad Azher, the youthful minister of economic affairs, responded to him from the government side. Instead of discussing the here and now realities, he opted to rub in the pet PTI theme to prove the point that previous governments of the PPP and the PML-N had pushed Pakistan to near bankruptcy due to recklessly selfish management. The PTI inherited an “empty treasury”; took time to set priorities for it and eventually reached a point where things definitely look to turn positive and hope inducing. Why and how? He never cared to explain.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari came to speak in the house after a long gap. Apparently, he took the floor after diligently sifting through the date, recently released by the government-run institutions. Widely referring to solid numbers, he seemingly prepared grounds to establish the “incompetence” of the Imran government.

He surely wasn’t too crisp in projecting the salient points of the available data. Yet, the PTI members felt jittery though kept listening to him in polite silence. There came a point in the middle of his speech, however, which many of them were not willing to let go.

The PPP Chairman was aggressively blunt in accusing Imran Khan for “acting out the script,” which the successive heads of a powerful government “agency” had allegedly been writing for him.

Led by two belligerent ministers, Ali Amin Gandapur and Omar Ayub Khan, a large number of PTI backbenchers sprang up from their seats to demand that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari should take back his words. He refused to budge and calmly moved on to the next point.

For obvious reasons, the PPP Chairman feels too passionate about the Benazir Income Support Programmed, launched to provide some kind of a security net to poor families during the PPP government of 2008.

Recalling the said program, he lost his cool while insisting that the government was “obsessed” to make people forget his mother and her commitment to the cause of taking concrete initiatives to alleviate miseries of the poor. Rubbing the said point, he called Imran Khan a “small man” for removing the name of Benazir Bhutto from the said program.

To express himself, he used the Urdu word, ‘CHOOTTA (small or petty).” Essentially, it describes a heart or mind, not perceived as too large or generous. The PTI didn’t like the use of this expression; took it like a rude insult to their leader and pressed the Speaker to expunge it.

The anger, Bilawal Bhutto had triggered by rubbing in two points in usual flow of a speech delivered in deeply polarized house, the PPP chairman could not steer the general discussion to focus on details of the program that the Imran government had signed with the IMF.

I can only wish that tight focus on this aspect should have led to a comprehensive discussion. A sort of consensus is fast building in the country, which strongly feels that the terms Imran government had agreed to for extracting a “bailout package” for the IMF are the main promoters of inflation in the country.

The government had rushed to commit “upfront increase” in the prices of electricity and gas; collection of an unattainable amount of taxes and documentation of the economy on a fast track. The IMF was approached in desperation, for sure. Yet, the government had some leverage to persuade for a set of conditions, it could smoothly deliver without completely slowing down the growth of our economy that had deepened the doom and gloom.

The PTI was almost blind in fury. Its members strongly felt that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was rude and insulting while discussing their leader. For the clear purpose of getting even, they launched Murad Saeed, the usual PPP-basher, to respond to the speech of PPP Chairman.

True to his reputation of a “born fighter,” Saeed did not disappoint his colleagues by niggardly calling the PPP leader as an “accidental politician,” who can’t express himself in Urdu and instead of being spontaneous, simply “reads through a speech,” which someone else must be writing for him.

Murad Saeed was given the floor for more than 45 minutes and he viciously used most of this time to discuss the person of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari with utmost contempt and anger. He even went to the extent of faking sympathy for the people of Larkana, the hometown of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,“who have been abandoned to stray dogs” by a “dynastic leader.”

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari left he house, the moment Murad Saeed took the floor to deliver his speech. With sadistic taunts, Saeed kept stressing that “accidental leader” lacked the courage of facing “truth”, as told by Saeed.

Close to the end of his speech, he also threatened with vigour that “in future, the accidental politician would not be allowed to deliver a speech in this house,” unless he returns to quietly listen to the rest of Murad Saeed’s speech.

While viciously taking on the person of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Murad Saeed arrogantly forgot the reality that some “lethal types” also sit on the PPP benches. Abdul Qadir Patel is an icon of them. This very experienced political worker from the streets of “not too polite” Lyari of Karachi is a master of deadpan humour.

Responding to Saeed, he surely overplayed his hand. But to be honest, Saeed had asked for it. The speech of Patel was highly entertaining, no doubt. But it was certainly laden with loaded words and expression, mostly used in really tough neighbourhood, to humiliate opponents with taunts, which clearly sounds like rude innuendos. The sort, I can simply not afford to report for our newspaper that seriously tries catering to “families”.