To meet the deadline for writing this column, I had to leave the National Assembly at 7:31pm after 90 minutes of non-stop fidgeting, yawning and self-cursing while sitting in the Press Lounge.

For another day, the moment Shehbaz Sharif began his speech to formally initiate the general discussion on the first budget of the Imran Khan government; most ministers and an overwhelming crowd of the ruling party backbenchers drowned his voice with fierce shouting.

“Protected” by the human shield that a large group of the PML-N members provided to him by huddling around his bench, the Opposition Leader tried hard to complete his speech.

Instead of Asad Qaiser, Qasim Suri, the deputy speaker was sitting in the presiding chair Tuesday afternoon and he did not feel comfortable with some opposition members who kept recording the heckling conduct of PTI legislators from their mobiles.

The opposition members put these videos on social media; perhaps, with the intent of “embarrassing” the ruling party. But without appreciating the very thick skins that the PTI legislators seem to have developed by now.

Trying to take cameras from “honorable members of the National Assembly,” even after clear orders from the presiding chair, Sergeants-at-arms could provoke physical assaults. Their reluctance thus compelled Suri to adjourn the House for “20 minutes.”

Announcing the same, he also directed the government and the opposition representatives to reach some agreement to ensure orderly conduct in the house.

Most ministers were not so keen to approach the PML-N at least. Some did try to engage “experienced parliamentarians” from the PPP, but in “personal capacity” and while adopting an informal one-on-one approach. In a viciously divided house, you certainly can’t find middle group by this approach.

Not a person, sitting on the treasury benches feels confused about the real desire of their leader, Imran Khan.

In recent meetings with his cabinet ministers and ruling party legislators, the Prime Minister kept clearly conveying to them that for him Asif Ali Zardaris and Shehbaz Sharifs of this world were nothing but “hardened criminals”. They ruthlessly abused their turns in power to amass millions with reckless “loot and plunder” of national resources.

They don’t deserve any mercy and to relish “insane privileges” like the one that allows a sitting member of the National Assembly to attend house proceedings and deliver “windy speeches,” while under investigation or spending time in jail.

He also desired that all PTI legislators must convey it to the opposition leaders that they too would not be allowed to smoothly deliver speeches in the National Assembly, if the Prime Minister was denied the respect and decorum his office deserves.

The PTI members have consistently been delivering what their leader had desired for the past three sitting. One is yet not sure whether the opposition had learned the “required lesson.”

But in this column, I have been forewarning that the rowdy show put by the PTI was now being hit by the law of diminishing returns. Their persistent recklessness was also bound to backfire during the second phase of the budget-passing procedure.

The government can’t rush to clause-by-clause approval of its budget, unless the opposition is allowed to push “cut motions” and question the performance of some important ministries through the same.

The clause-by-clause approval of budgetary proposals needs a very smooth and fastest possible track. Furious for being scorned, the opposition, at this stage, was bound to have all the space to keep forcing head counts while questioning validity of voice voting.

That possibility can also force the government to ensure that at least 150-plus of its members keep staying put in the house, come what may.

Ministers like Pervez Khattak, instinctively fathom the potential vulnerability and embarrassment for the government at that stage. To prevent the same, he joined the Speaker, Asad Qaiser, to seek a SOS meeting with the prime minister.

Perhaps only after managing the approving nod, the Speaker rushed to the House at tail end of the recess that was enforced to seeking calm and compromise. Immediately after returning to his chambers, the Speaker invited a high-profile delegation of the opposition parties.

The house proceedings were resumed at around 8 pm. Shehbaz Sharif did not resume his speech, though. Instead of him, speaker after speaker stood from the front benches of both sides of the aisle to tell us that the government and the opposition had agreed to listen to each other’s speeches in a “civilized manner”.

The House was then adjourned to meet on Wednesday morning. That will surely provide ample time and sober environment to Shehbaz Sharif for completing his budget speech.

I still have doubts, however, if Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will finish his speech without much ado.

Even if provided with enough time and space, he and the rest of opposition legislators are hardly left with maximum four days to highlight biting sides of the budget that Dr Hafeez Shaikh had prepared to enable Pakistan for getting a bailing out package from the IMF.

For legitimate reasons, during the remaining days that were allotted for “general discussion on the budget,” some ministers and vocal PTI members would also demand time to project the “pro-poor” and “development-friendly” sides of their government’s first budget.

By adopting an aggressive and “punitive” stance, the government has certainly succeeded to snatch the center-stage from the opposition that it was set to use for spinning the doom and gloom stories about the first budget of Imran Khan government.

It is but obvious by now that the Speaker will not issue production orders to ensure the presence of either Asif Ali Zardari or Khawaja Saad Rafique in the House during the budget session. They are treated as “criminals” by the government, unless proven otherwise after long drawn out battles in various courts.

Two members, representing the PTM, will also remain in jail to face serious charges of terrorism and anti-state conduct.

With enviable cunning, the government has successfully pushed Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to confront an either/or dilemma. They could either lost the opportunity of projecting the frightening sides of the budget or keep demanding the presence of Asif Ali Zardari and Saad Rafique in house proceedings. They had to opt for mere speech making in the end.