During the second sitting of the general discussion on budgetary proposals, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari surely delivered a comprehensive and engaging speech Tuesday. The operative part of his speech clearly revealed a compassionate heart, deeply worried about the massive and multiple forms of misery, COVID-19 has brought to our luckless country.

Expressing anxiety in the given context, the youthful Chairman of the PPP, could not stop himself from comparing his worries with allegedly the casual approach, he believed, the Prime Minister appeared to have adopted to deal with an ongoing pandemic. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was equally worried about the possible impact of the locust attack, expected to start from Balochistan by the end of this week.

He presented a plethora of valid sounding points to build the case that instead of sincerely helping the PPP-led government in Sindh to firmly combat Corona, the Federal Government rather continued to create problems for it. The PTI leaders stoked near-rebellion sentiments in that province to weaken the strategy of a strict lockdown. Instead of enhancing the Sindh government’s capacity to manage the pandemic, the federal government behaved callously stingy when it came to sharing resources. The story didn’t end there.

The PPP Chairman strongly believed that the Imran government had certainly decided to deny the Sindh government its “due share,” appropriately allotted through the National Finance Commission (NFC). With the said intent a new

NFC had been constituted, close to presentation of the coming financial year’s budget. After passionate elaboration of his grievances, he finished with a defiant message.

His speech certainly deserved thorough reporting and analysis. The first 20 minutes of the Tuesday sitting, however, have made me extremely depressed. With a hurt heart I was forced to conclude that the national assembly of these days has been completely taken over by a significant number of reckless types. They remain callously indifferent to the gravity of the ongoing pandemic and continue to obsessively promote narratives of their respective parties, which aim at nothing but throwing mud at each other.

The either/or mindset often force many honorable members of this house to brazenly behave like the schoolyard bullies. Please consider these twenty 20 minutes to fathom my pain.

At the outset of Tuesday sitting, Syed Navid Qamar of the PPP raised a pertinent question. While presenting budgetary proposals for a financial year, each government had also been putting a thick pile of books on the desks allotted to all members. Called the “pink books” for the color of their cover, these books provide comprehensive details to help us understand as to how each ministry or the government department had spent the funds allocated to them through the previous budget.

 

Being a very experienced parliamentarian, who had also prepared and presented the annual budgets for two previous governments of the PPP, Mr. Qamar was justified to wonder why the same books were not laid in the house this year. He did admit, however, that the required details had been recorded on USBs. But the copies of it were yet not available to all members. Most MNAs were old school anyway andan overwhelming majority of them is not computer friendly. Without consulting the pink books, they would not be able to objectively evaluatethe performance of various ministries.

 

Dr. Babar Awan, the recently inducted minister of parliamentary affairs, wisely acknowledged the validity of Qamar’s question. He also promised to approach the ministry of finance to do the needful. After this assurance, it was time to move on to the scheduled business.

 

Khawaja Asif of the PML-N, however, stood to block the smooth sailings. After taking the floor on a point of order he referred to two statements, which he claimed had already gone viral on social media. Through these statements, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan was alleged to have expressed the idea that Pakistan wouldn’t be pushed, if India managed to grab the permanent seat of the UN Security Council.

 

Shah Mehmud Qureshi was also alleged to have dropped heavy hints for the recognition of Israel. A position, Khawaja Sahib added, Fawad Chaudhry, the minister of science and technology also seemed promoting ceaselessly. He finished his point by demanding that Foreign Minister must personally come to the House to clarify his position on these issues.

 

Qasim Suri is merely the deputy speaker of the national assembly. His main job is to preside the assembly sitting in the absence of Speaker Asad Qaisar. He hardly has any role to play, when it comes to take decisive initiatives by our Foreign Ministry.

 

Yet, he decided to act big and announced with a bombastic voice: “I promise that Pakistan will never recognize Israel as a country, (perhaps he wanted say ‘the state”). As if the said vows were not enough, Suri went on to remind us like a motivational speaker that Israel was not a country. It was but a usurper, grabber and occupier of the lands, which were owned by the Palestinians. Then he invited Murad Saeed to speak for the government.

 

This youthful minister of communication from Swat is an iconic PTI hawk. He loves to behave like a know-all and spares no opportunity to defend the PTI government, even if the questions put in the house have nothing to do with the ministry under his command and control.

 

Prime Minister proudly approves his vigorous conduct, which he seriously believes has succeeded to check the flight of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Imran Khan and his diehard loyalists feel delighted to presume that the youthful Chairman of the PPP really gets unnerved, when Saeed is present in the House. The relentless praise has eventually encouraged the minister of communication to take the floor, with or without being required, for snubbing each prominent member of the national assembly. Tuesday, he attempted to do the same with Khawaja Asif.

 

At the outset of his speech, he derided the PML-N leader with contemptuous tone and words. Close to the election of 2018, the Islamabad High Court had disqualified Khawaja Asif for holding a public office. He was alleged to have been holding AQAMA of the UAE for presumably working as “consultant” for a foreign-based company. The allegation suggested a clear case of the conflict of interest; for, the PML-N leader also held the important and security-sensitive ministries of first defense and then the foreign ministry during the last PML-N government. The Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned the High Court decision against him. But Saeed would surely not want to remember it to score points.

 

The youthful minister of communication did not feel content for taking on Khawaja Asif only. After “settling scores” with him, he switched his ire to Nawaz Sharif and tauntingly kept recalling about how Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, had ”suddenly landed in Lahore” to attend the wedding reception of Nawaz Sharif’s grand daughter, who also happened to be the daughter of Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

 

Saeed also rubbed in the “close relations,” Nawaz Sharif apparently had with an Indian tycoon, Sajjan Jindal. He kept traveling down the memory lane to project the point that the Sharifs were acknowledged “friends (collaborators?) Of India.” Their loyalists must think twice before accusing his leader, Imran Khan, for being soft on India and tinkling with the idea of recognizing Israel.

 

Then he kept thundering to recall the “historic speech,” Imran Khan had delivered before the UN General Assembly in September 2019 to resurrect the “long dead and dormant issue of Kashmir.” Also, the vigorous manner he had taken on the “Islamophobes of this world.”

 

The score-settling theme of Saeed’s remarks and their contemptuous tone infuriated the PML-N members. With vigorous shouts they tried to block his flow. After failing to stop him, some even tried to reach close to his seat to respond to him with in-your-face shouts. Rohail Asghar Sheikh looked more aggressive than the rest and Saeed infuriated him more with rude gestures and remarks. To prevent definite-looking building for physical brawls, Qasim Suri adjourned the house for ten minutes.

 

I seriously consider Qasim Suri exclusively responsible for encouraging the above-narrated chaos. With the zeal of a new convert, he has developed the habit of ceding space to PTI-hawks. It seems he has yet to understand the fundamentals of regulating business in the national assembly.