After a long gap, Shahid Khakan Abbassi, the former prime minister, was brought to Parliament House from Adyala Jail of Rawalpindi; presumably to attend the national assembly sitting, thanks to the production order signed by the Speaker.

Instead of joining the house proceedings, he preferred to keep staying put in the chambers, allotted to the PML-N President and the opposition leader in the national assembly, Shahbaz Sharif.

Ahsan Iqbal, another PML-N MNA, spending time in NAB’s custody these days, was brought along with him. He too remained absent from the house, at least until I was sitting in the press gallery.

Some parliamentary reporters anticipated with visible confidence that Shahid Khakan might leave the opposition leader’s chambers after a while to deliver a “juicy and newsy” speech. I could not wait, primarily to meet the deadline for this column.

Even otherwise, I did not expect “anything-sizzling” coming from him. Shahid Khakan did feel abandoned, when his party rushed to announce “unconditional support” for the law that the government wanted to introduce to settle the issues of the appointments of Services’ Chief and matters related to their tenures. But he would still hesitate to express reservations on the said issue to grab headlines.

Abbassi had felt heart-broken after losing a national assembly seat from Murree, his ancestral town, during the election of July 2018. His father had won the said seat, for the first time in 1985, and since then Shahid Khakan Abbassi had mostly retained the same in successive elections.

To placate his hurt heart, Nawaz Sharif personally nominated him to contest for a national assembly seat from the heart of old and walled city of Lahore that Hamza Sharif had vacated by joining the Punjab Assembly in 2018.

This seat is considered an invincible territory of the Sharif family. But their patriarch, Nawaz Sharif, surrendered it to Abbassi. Being a thorough and old school gentleman, Shahid Khakan Abbassi feels strongly grateful to generosity shown to him. He would hate to embarrass Nawaz Sharif by publicly airing grievances he might have recently accumulated against the PML-N’s conduct and the strategy.

Tuesdays are always reserved for private initiatives in legislation. Too prominent on the day’s agenda was a “constitutional amendment” that six MQM members of the national assembly had collectively posted many weeks ago.

Ms. Kishwer Zehra, Usama Qadri, Engr. Sabir Hussain Kaim Khani, Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan, Salahuddin and Syed Amin-ul-Haq had expressed the intent to introduce various amendments in Articles 1, 51, 59, 106, 175-A, 198 and 218 of our constitution.

You have to carefully comb these articles for discovering that by inserting amendments into them, the MQM, in effect, wanted to split the current territory of the province of Sindh in two parts. The articles, the MQM legislators had referred to, not only define the territory of a province but also prescribe ways to allocate the Senate and the national and provincial assembly seats for it. Some of these articles facilitate the establishment of a high court for the “new province.” 

Ms. Kishwer Zehra was prominently present in the house, but the Speaker did not invite her to introduce the bill. Before the commencement of the Tuesday sitting, the PTI handlers of the parliamentary business clearly conveyed it to MQM legislators that introduction of their amendments might trigger a huge backlash in Sindh. They should drop the idea of pushing them. The MQM opted to oblige without much ado.

The MQM knows it well that it can never manage 2/3rd majority in the national assembly to move on the idea of carving a “new” province by splitting the current territory of Sindh. Its legislators had posted the abovementioned amendments, merely to flaunt them before the “home constituency.”

It is to please the same constituency that Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui had announced the intent of resigning from the federal cabinet, while accusing the Imran government of remaining “indifferent” to accumulated and growing grievances “among the residents of Karachi.”

Imran Khan’s emissaries had failed to appease Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, so far; he did not attend the meeting of Federal Cabinet Tuesday either. Yet, his party continues to support the PTI government, “positively.” By not pressing for the much desired “constitutional amendment” Tuesday, the MQM had also exposed its limits.

Tariq Bashir Cheema had also not attended the cabinet meeting of Tuesday. His deliberate looking absence to me looks far more significant to me. After all, he is a formidable representative of the Chaudhrys of Gujarat. They have their own version of Pakistan Muslim League, relishing tremendous clout when it comes to playing power games in the most populace province of Pakistan, Punjab.

The missing of Cheema from the cabinet meeting clearly shows that after the MQM, the PML-Q of the Chaudhrys of Gujarat has also begun throwing tantrums. Mostobservers of our political scene are connecting these tantrums to rumors of “in-house change” that many in Islamabad anticipate to materialize in “March 2020.” As if to scuttle the fast growing perception of “instability” regarding the Imran government, Prime Minister had deputed some of his weighty ministers to manage damage control. The PTI government is yet not willing to show any “flexibility,” however, when it comes to deal with the Sharifs.

Ms. Maryam Nawaz, the daughter and apparent political heir of Nawaz Sharif, anxiously wants to reach London to attend her ailing father. The cabinet meeting of Tuesday firmly put her name on the Exit Control List, also on grounds of a “new case” that charges Ms. Nawaz Sharif for “money laundering.”

Reportedly, the Prime Minister also felt too annoyed after noticing a picture that had gone viral on social media. In the said picture, Nawaz Sharif was shown as if savoring “the luxury” of sharing breakfast with all his family members at a high-end restaurant in London. He had asked the Punjab government to double-check the “health status” of Nawaz Sharif.

The former prime minister had gone to London after managing the permission for it from the Lahore High Court. The government is now seeking some fresh and solid grounds to persuade the court that he should be asked to return and complete the jail term that an accountability court had announced for him under the charge of corruption.

Prime Minister Imran Khan surely needs to act rigid and unforgiving vis-à-vis Nawaz Sharif and his daughter to ensure his “base” that he is just not willing to forget and forgive “looters and plunderers,” come what may.

The whispers for “in house change” sounds doubly insidious in the given context. While preferring to watch and wait at this point in time, one can only say that things indeed are fast heading to a new round of power games in our country.