What a week it has been- the past seven days have seen the fateful visit of the Saudi Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, the Kulbhushan case at the International Court of Justice, Iranian hostility and the India-Pakistan relations fiasco that erupted due to the Pulwama attack. It is safe to say that the government has had its hands full the last week administrating so many different happenings at once. The usual daily coverage of parliamentary rivalries and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases that dominate our political conversations were forgotten for a moment as the country came together to unite on external rivalries and diplomacy.

However, now perhaps it is time for us and our parliamentarians to focus on domestic affairs again. There are still enormous issues which need to be dealt with- after six months in office, the parliament has not been successful in working together to draft or pass legislation. There is an almost unprecedented divide between the government and opposition due to the continuous arrests of opposition members. Yesterday’s session amplified the growing resentment between the two sides.

This time, it was Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that expressed the strongest reservations against the government due to the arrest of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani. PPP leader Khurshid Shah, speaking on the floor of the Parliament, termed the arrest “a step backwards for democracy” and said that jails of the country “are made to punish politicians” implying that the arrest was politically motivated. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also expressed similar disapproval, having seen the arrest, and then recent release, of Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif. Durrani was arrested from Islamabad on Wednesday and is accused of illegal appointments and accumulating assets beyond known sources of income by NAB.

There were several pressing issues that should have been discussed in yesterday’s parliament session- the Finance Minister Asad Umar and Prime Minister Imran Khan dropped by, making it a good opportunity for the Opposition to probe them on the proposed economic relief packages and to push them to further elaborate the plan for constituting the parliamentary committee on finance. Unfortunately, it appears that the Opposition was more intent on delivering its grievances on the new arrests on the corner, rather than reviewing the government’s economic proposals.

It is unfortunate that this lacklustre ethic in the parliament is still continuing. The government needs to stand with the opposition to end political arrests before convictions, and the opposition needs to fulfill its duty of oversight.