ISLAMABAD - Bitter past was clearly dominating the demeanour of Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz top leadership which stayed aloof and indifferent towards each other and their interaction remained confined to just handshake and exchange of artificial smiles.
The gentle rain of late Sunday night and thick clouds on Monday morning had brought some solace to the pinching humidity but inside the parliament house, where the MNAs-elect of 15th National Assembly had gathered to take oath, there was much more coldness between the opposition parties which failed to stage a massive protest as planned and could not even manage to wear black bands on their arms to express their rejection of ‘massively rigged’ July 25 elections.
Some insiders in the parliament informed The Nation that the MPs belonging to Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal had brought black bands with them but as the main opposition parties — PPP and PML-N — could not decide on some joint protest strategy, they did not wear bands.
PML-N MNA Mian Javid Latif shuttled between PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and PPP central leader Syed Khursheed Shah who up till now is a joint candidate of opposition parties for the slot of Speaker National Assembly but the protest plan could not be finalised.
It was noticed during the session that there was eerie calm between PPP and PML-N leadership and disengagement between the opposition parties was conspicuously noticed by many.
Shehbaz shook hands with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan when he walked pass him in aisle to approach his seat while after signing the Roll of Members he walked up to the seat of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and exchanged pleasantries.
Some insiders in PML-N informed that actually both PPP and PML-N were not in a mood to stage a protest on the inaugural session of the National Assembly while MMA leaders wanted to lodge a strong protest and forcefully establish their point of massive rigging in elections.
Parliamentary sources said that PML-N and PPP leadership were not mentally prepared to accept each other and the coldness they had shown towards each other on the floor of the lower house of the parliament was visible as the body language of their MPs was also repellent and they would unlikely move along for long.
Even when PML-N leader Khawaja Asif, whose seat was next to the seat of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, seemed compelled to shake hands with Bilawal and they were so uneasy sitting beside each other that as soon as former president Asif Ali Zardari left the house after signing members’ roll Bilawal Bhutto Zardari switched to his seat.
Similarly, there seemed a contest-like situation between the PPP and PML-N MPs and their supporters sitting in the visitors’ galleries, raised full throat slogans when their respective leaders walked up to the speaker’s podium to sing the members’ roll.
It first started when Asif Ali Zardari, who was first to sign the members’ roll, PPP lady MP Shagufta Jamani raised full throat slogans of ‘Jeway Bhutto’. She again busted into series of slogans when PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto rose to his seat for signing the members’ roll.
The house also witnessed sloganeering of ‘Sher Aya, Sher Aya’ for quite some time when PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif’s name was called for singing of the roll. Obviously there was massive thumping of desks and applause when Imran Khan went up the speaker’s dais for signing of members’ roll.
Outside the parliament house, the divide between opposition parties seemed wide and open too as they were toeing their own agendas and no cohesion between them or anything concrete about their joint plan of action for coming days.
When asked some of the members of these parties deflected the questions by saying that the senior party leadership would decide on it.