Like it or not, Sadiq Sanjrani, the Senate Chairman, is steadily building the reputation of a consensus builder about himself. The unanimous adoption of an amendment in the constitution by the upper house of parliament Monday, firmly affirmed his reach and influence in the said context.

You require 2/3rd majority for amending the constitution and the Imran government does not command even the simple majority in the Senate. On its own, it can never dare to move for amending the constitution. Yet Sanjrani had delivered on this front and doing so would surely create the feel good mood in his province, Balochistan, as well.

Through the said amendment the Balochistan Assembly will now have seven more seats, 90 from 83. The scarcely populated province is the largest, if judged by the land it has. But the blocks of voters for the constituencies of the national and the provincial assembly are scattered to vastly spread areas. Candidates, contesting for the seats of these assemblies, find it almost impossible to reach each of them.

The increase in the provincial assembly seats has finally addressed an obvious but serious anomaly. One feels doubly good for reporting that cutting across the party divide, Senators from Balochistan took the initiative in their individual capacity and persuaded the rest of colleagues from other provinces to support them.

Contrary to consensus-building mood in the Senate, the national assembly continued to truly reflect the either/or polarization on our political spectrum. The government’s handlers of the parliamentary business also appeared fully conscious of the possibility that the number-strong opposition would viciously rub in the story, dominating the regular and social media for the past two days.

The story relates to declaration of assets by a relatively high number of unelected advisors of the Imran government. Some of them also hold foreign nationalities, while most of the rest enjoy the privilege of ‘permanent residence’ in different countries.

 

Since 2008, self-styled patriots had been treating the “duel nationals” like pariahs. Imran Khan’s PTI mostly led the vigorous noise against them. Nawaz Sharif, the third time prime minister, had rather been declared disqualified for holding any public office, due to an “Agama (permanent residence).On the same ground, two top leaders of the PML-N, Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal often faced embarrassment as well.

 

The recently declared status of the many powerful advisors of the Imran government surely created a huge space for the opposition to get even. But Asad Qaisar, the Speaker, turned adamant for running the house,“as per the day’s agenda” on Monday. After disposing off the regular but essentially lifeless items, he let the house deliver speeches on ‘privatization.’

 

Khawaja Asif, a very experienced parliamentarian from the PML-N, opened the discussion on this subject. But instead of focusing on the nitty-gritty details of this complex issues, he cunningly tried to use the opportunity for ruthlessly taking on the “carpet baggers,” literally controlling the policy making of the Imran government as unelected advisors.

 

It was obvious that Zulfikar Bokhari, the most trusted aide of the prime minister, was the real target of his passionate ire. For the same purpose, Khawaja Asif specifically referred to rumors, claiming that the government had been showing indecent haste to ‘sell off’ Hotel Roosevelt of New York. As an obsessive player of the real estate business, President Trump was also reported to have expressed the desire of buying it.

 

Around a year ago, Mr. Bokhari had a lengthy meeting with Trump’s daughter and the son-in-law in White House. The suspicious critics of Imran Khan often recall the said meeting to vend the story that the Imran government and the Trump family had already reached ‘the deal’ among them. Mr. Bokhari is the ‘facilitator.’ Until the final execution of the alleged deal, however, hush-hush approach has been adopted to confuse the public with a flood of deceptive stories related to the privatization of Hotel Roosevelt. Khawaja Asif keenly wanted to trigger an explosive discussion on this juicy story through his speech of Monday.

 

To subvert his move, Murad Saeed, ‘the fighter’ minister from the treasury benches, took the floor. He delivered a lethal speech to rudely narrate the ‘personal histories’ of Nawaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal. With utmost contempt, he kept insisting that after failing to make a successful career in the game of cricket, Nawaz Sharif eventually moved to doing full time politics as a docile disciple of General Zia in the 1980s. He must think twice before proclaiming himself the ultimate democrat.

 

The youthful minister of communication proudly kept asserting that Imran Khan had reached the prime minister’s office due to 22 years of relentless struggle. The Supreme Court of Pakistan had also declared him ‘Sadiq and Amin,’ after through probe of his assets, Nawaz Sharif, on the other hand, was declared “the liar and cheater” by the same court.

 

The opposition felt too uncomfortable with his speech. They tried to block his flow with occasional heckling. But Qasim Suri, the deputy speaker, firmly kept checking them. In the end, Murad Saeed conveniently got away with aggressive table turning.

 

It definitely is time for the opposition to honestly admit that in spite of having a significant number in the national assembly, 140-plus, both of its major parties miserably failed to execute a well-thought-out ‘script’ through parliamentary discussions. They continue to look like a rudderless crowd without any energy to resist and fight back. Its leading members even fail to rub in points that can easily push the government to a tight corner.

 

Even a casual observer of our political scene can fathom without much effort that by repeatedly questioning the credentials of pilots, flying planes of our national flag carrier, Sarwar Khan, the minister in charge of aviation, had recklessly ruined the reputation of PIA. After ceaseless accumulation of the colossal amount of damage, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) finally began telling the world that the story questioning the credentials of our pilots had no valid grounds.

 

If you trust CAA, Sarwar Khan had surely been making ‘false statements’, that too in a so-called ‘sovereign and supreme institution,’ i.e., the national assembly of Pakistan. Even in the most controlled democracies ‘false statements’ in parliament are considered a serious breach of this forum’s sanctity and prestige.

 

The opposition took long to invoke the question of privilege against Sarwar Khan. Ms. Shazia Marri of the PPP looked almost alone to remind the Speaker Monday evening that as per the clearly prescribed rules, he was expected to take the privilege motion, posted by the opposition two days ago. Asad Qaisar remained casual but firm to disregard her plea by claiming that his office had yet to receive the said motion and it also required time to decide the validity of it.

 

I am almost certain that with half-hearted attempts, the number-strong opposition would not be able to put Sarwar Khan in the dock. He too would easily get away with heedlessruining the reputation of our civil aviation.