With the clear intent of sustaining energy for a lengthy show of defiance, the combined opposition took long before triggering absolute chaos in the National Assembly of Pakistan Tuesday.

During the initial 30 minutes of the budget speech that the State Minister of Revenue was assigned to read, we rather noticed a very deceptive calm engulfing the opposition benches.

That motivated many of us sitting in the press gallery to imagine as if some backroom deal had been struck. Perhaps the Speaker had firmly committed to sign production order to ensure presence of Asif Ali Zardari during all sittings of the budget session.

Ms Shazia Marri of the PPP appeared hyperactive, however. She kept going to almost each backbencher representing her party for conveying some strategy in conspiratorial whispers. Then a huge pack of placards was smuggled into the house. After distributing them among designated members, she and her colleagues waited for the cue for action.

After getting right nods and winks from their leaders, all backbenchers, both from the PML-N and PPP, stood up to display the placards that primarily announced disapproval of the “IMF budget. After flaunting them for a while, most opposition members started walking up to the Speaker’s dais while raising spirited chants of “Go Niazi Go.”

Betraying utter panic, a big crowd of feisty ministers and the PTI backbenchers erected a human wall around the prime minister. Imran Khan didn’t appear upset, however. He rather kept watching the rowdy show with a visibly sadistic smile. After finishing of the budget speech, he also left the house by waving his hands in the air like a victor.

One kept staying put in the press gallery during the budget speech, primarily waiting for the announcement of new taxes. Numbers and percentages are almost Greek to economic-illiterates like me. Yet, one could not hear even a word of this part of the budgetary speech.

After rushing to the press lounge to get some idea about the proposed taxation, one could instantly fathom that the “prior conditions” that the IMF had set for Pakistan to qualify for a bailout package were diligently fulfilled.

Dr Hafeez Shaikh has drafted a visibly submissive execution of the said conditions. Not being elected to either National Assembly or the Senate, he could not read the text prepared by him in the house. Hammad Azhar, the state minister, did it for him with a brave heart. Not for once he fumbled or felt distracted by the unbearable din all around him.

For enjoying the status of a federal minister, Hafeez Shaikh relishes the privilege of attending house proceedings. He sat next to Azhar on the front row, but not for a second looked at his junior colleague with approving and appreciating nods and gestures. He also remained arrogantly indifferent to chaotic chants. His calm indeed reflected the contempt that technocrats instinctively develop for the “corrupt and incompetent” politicians, elected to an allegedly “sovereign house” after enduring fierce campaigning.

Yet, the PTI has to walk many extra miles to ensure that the budget prepared by him is approved without much ado.

Notwithstanding the spirited defiance that the opposition has begun showing from the outset of the budget session, none of its senior and experienced leaders look too keen to vote out the IMF dictated proposals.

The majority that Imran government has in this house is vulnerable for sure. Akhtar Mengal of the BNP certainly has votes to spoil the show. But the budget announced on Tuesday can only be rejected if the PML-Q also joins the multi-party opposition. Led by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, the said party is yet not willing to quit the ruling coalition, however.

After enjoying power in successive governments, most members of the PPP and the PML-N hardly need a tutor to realize that expelling Imran Khan from the Prime Minister’s Office by voting out its first budget, even if possible, does not suit them. The government replacing him, even after holding of new elections at this stage, would certainly require to introduce far more tougher a budget.

From the long-term perspective, it suits all parties in the opposition if the Imran government feels itself all alone to endure the blowback of budgetary proposals that appear doubly unbearable in the context of frighteningly sluggish economy of these days.

The PTI government is feeling too good, comfortable and delighted anyway. Nawaz Sharif is already spending time in jail; Asif Ali Zardari was nabbed by the NAB a day before presentation of its first budget and Tuesday afternoon, Hamza Shehbaz Sharif also slipped into the NAB’s custody after rejection of his bail by the Lahore High Court.

All these arrests are helping the government to drum the claim that Imran Khan is fast fulfilling his vow of throwing “looters and plunderers” from two mainstream parties that ruled Pakistan since 2008 to long term confinements in jail.

The arrest of MQM’s founder in London Tuesday morning further pumped their morale. Almost each PTI minister firmly believes that nonstop arrests of high profile politicians keep furnishing perfect diversions to generate and sustain the feel-good mood about the government.

The smiling ministers seem oblivious to the reality that an average Joe hardly listens to budget speeches. It is the pinch that he or she feels while paying the utility bills and buying grocery for everyday consumption.

Since the advent of the Imran government in August 2018, a huge majority of the salaried classes and mid-level businesspersons began enduring the fear of fast slipping down to the bottom. The budgetary proposals announced on Tuesday did nothing to substantively abate the said fear.

And this compels one to anxiously imagine the possibility where the mass-rage triggers absolute chaos in streets all across Pakistan.

Trust me, the relatively managed bedlam created by the opposition in an elected house Tuesday will certainly look like a child play, if that happens.