The oath taking ceremony of Pakistan’s fourteenth National Assembly took place with surprising displays of courtesy, the credit for which goes to Imran Khan, who walked over to his political adversaries and shook hands with them. Some political analysts termed it as the first indicator of change, but as this observation was being celebrated, the former Ruling Party’s true character surfaced once again outside the Accountability Court, where Nawaz Sharif was scheduled to arrive from Adiala Jail and face two more NAB references.
Around a hundred individuals including PML-N Leaders and activists tried to prevent the convicted ex-Prime Minister from entering the courthouse. The leaders in this rabble preferred to break the law by obstructing an accused to appear before a judge, while they were expected to reach the National Assembly punctually at the appointed hour, to cast their vote for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s election. Mr. Shahbaz Sharif was present with this crowd and it would have been better for his already marred image, had he not taken the microphone and once again put a foot in his mouth by describing a popularity scenario that did not exist. He also said that a three time elected Prime Minister was being brought to court in an armored car, which was an insult to his status. The younger Sharif perhaps forgot that his elder brother’s current status was that of a convict in jail and under the dictates of ‘being equal in the eyes of the law’, even an armored car was a ‘privilege’ granted to him on account of the security situation.
Obstructing judicial proceedings to the extreme of attacking the highest court in the land is nothing new for PML-N. There is a prevailing notion that if the perpetrators of the assault on the Supreme Court had been tried and thrown in jail for deterrent terms, the party would have learnt their lesson. It would in the interest of correcting our political attitudes and personal discipline if the Chief Justice takes notice of what occurred outside the NAB court and institute action against those responsible.
With no other way to vent their frustration at their unthinkable debacle in the 2018 Elections, the outgoing Speaker ordered the microphone of his ex-Deputy Speaker to be opened, immediately after announcing that Asad Qaiser from PTI had won the election. Whether this was preplanned or a gesture to allow his former colleague to say a few words welcoming the new incumbent, became amply evident, when venom began spewing from Mr. Abbasi’s mouth and photographs of the convicted ex-Prime Minister appeared in the hands of PML-N legislators, accompanied by provocative slogans. In all this pandemonium, the PTI benches remained composed and a few young PTI legislators, who came out of their seats, were sent back by Imran Khan and Shah Mahmud Qureshi. While all this was happening, the PPP MNAs kept silent, in proof of the fact that their approach to politics is radically different from PML-N. The latter is a rabble that callously tramples all norms and parliamentary ethics, while the former has consistently displayed political dignity and maturity. It is because of this difference that many, termed the Grand Opposition Alliance as naturally untenable. If reports are to be believed then this so called ‘alliance’ is already beset with ominous undercurrents and cracks.
There is so much desperation within PML-N ranks at their back to back failures that they have begun resorting to methods that in reality will further accentuate their pitiful condition. I saw a demonstration of their mental state, while having a cup of coffee with one of their Party stalwarts. I found the gentleman distracted and using arguments bereft of logic. So irrational was his behavior that he injected his monologue with unprintable language. I came away from what I thought would be a pleasant evening, with feelings of pity for PML-N loyalists, who were perhaps fighting an inner battle with their loyalty and devotion and coming reluctantly to terms with the painful reality that they had been let down by their leaders.
The writer is a freelance columnist.