ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar battled to finish his job on Wednesday as a killingly teasing opposition taunted and distracted him during the concluding hours of the debate on the national budget for the fiscal year 2017-2018.

Throughout the days that the members of the National Assembly were expected to debate on the budget, the opposition parties boycotted the proceedings.

They always turned up, took the microphone, spoke against the government and walked away – leaving the treasury lawmakers to highlight the “extraordinary budget”.

Outside the hall, the opposition members saw the financial plan a total disappointment, which would further corner the common man. All through the debate, the opposition lawmakers chose to either discuss the budget outside the parliament or on the television screens.

On Wednesday, they played more pranks.

Opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah said that the whole opposition was waiting for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to brief them on the Gulf crisis after his visit to Saudi Arabia.

Sharif met Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz this week as part of Pakistan’s efforts to defuse the Saudi-Qatar tension.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had earlier cut diplomatic ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting terror networks.

Qatar denied the allegations and appealed for talks.

The prime minister, who has personal ties with both the Saudi and Qatari royals, may soon visit Qatar or Kuwait to carry the process further.

After his meeting with the Saudi king, PM Sharif had hoped the current impasse in the Gulf would be resolved soon.

Shah said that Prime Minister Sharif should have attended the National Assembly proceedings to take the House into confidence on the Gulf crisis.

Thereafter, the opposition tried to distract the finance minister as he hurried through the formalities to get the Finance Bill 2017 passed.

Engineer Hamidul Haq Khalil stole the show as he came right in front of Dar, put his finger on his lips requesting silence and suddenly tore apart his own shirt, in protest against the budget.

The House burst into laughter but Dar tried to keep his calm.

The other opposition members sat near the speaker’s dais – waiting for the PM to brief them on the national and international affairs.

The PM who will appear before the joint investigation team in connection with the Panama leaks scandal today (June 15) was never expected to come.

Dar however, announced that Prime Minister Sharif will appear before the JIT and had asked party workers to stay away from the JIT secretariat.

He rejected opposition’s allegations that the state institutions were creating hurdles in the proceedings of the JIT constituted to probe Panama Papers case against the Sharif family.

“The state institutions are in fact providing all the required material to the JIT. The PM will appear before the JIT,” Dar said.

He said, while the government respected the process of investigation, there were doubts and suspicions over the process.  “We fully respect the law and the constitution,” Dar added.

The opposition opted to walk away as the National Assembly passed Finance Bill 2017 with majority vote to give effect to measures announced in the annual budget proposals for fiscal 2017-2018.

The bill was moved by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid and adopted by a House with empty opposition benches.

When the session was prorogued by the chair, the finance minister got something to cheer about. His colleagues from the treasury benches gathered around him to take selfies. At least a smile as the curtain fell.