ISLAMABAD - Amid fiery speeches, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s rejuvenated brigade stopped the rivals’ bid to remove him from the top seat of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

The opposition was banking on the habitual absenteeism of the treasury lawmakers to pass the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2017 but Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had attracted enough members to counter the hostile parties.

The amendment bill was aimed to remove Nawaz Sharif as the PML-N president citing his disqualification by the Supreme Court.

The government had passed the original bill from the Senate taking advantage of some rival lawmakers’ absence.

Then they quickly passed the bill from the National Assembly and President Mamnoon Hussain signed it into a law in no time.

The law allowed any person to become a member of chief of a political party doing away with the condition that he or she should be qualified to become a member of the parliament.

The opposition, led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), was left fuming as they tried to undo the new law and bring an amendment to enforce the earlier eligibility condition.

They rushed it through the Senate – where they enjoy a majority – but when it came to the National Assembly, they were far short of the magic number to force their will.

But the PPP and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf were not short of words.

They made a point before being knocked down by the PML-N’s majority.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had a wide smile on his face when he ordered a voice count.

Those against the bill were ecstatic and loud.

The opposition parties also did their bit to distract the speaker but the PML-N was declared winner.

Syed Naveed Qamar, the mover of the bill, challenged the voice count and called for a division.

The speaker said that there could not be a division but the voters could be counted.

The results were again in favour of the PML-N – 163 to opposition’s 98.

John F Kennedy said: “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan,” so the PML-N rightfully celebrated.

There was no mention of dozens of lawmakers – more than 80 from across the divide – who skipped the session even after Nawaz Sharif personally instructed all treasury members to attend the crunch session.

PM Abbasi also failed to pull the chronic absentees.

For the PML-N lawmakers, who “visited” the assembly only for the crucial vote, it was a time to make their presence felt.

To achieve this goal, they chanted slogans and tried to interrupt speeches by the opposition members.

Some lawmakers from the opposition tried to match them.

The speaker was so upset with the noise that he threatened to “take action” against the rowdy members.

All eyes were on former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan with some speculating he may abstain from voting but Khan stood up for the PML-N.

Earlier, the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was presented by the PPP’s Naveed Qamar.

He said a lawmaker who was barred to attend sessions of the National Assembly by the Supreme Court should not be allowed to lead a political party as it contradicted articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

Qamar emphasised that person-specific amendments in the constitution were damaging for the system.

“Democracy should mean rule of law, it should mean that we respect the institutions and we follow the Constitution. Why are you panicking,” he asserted.

The PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi quipped it was a good sight to see so many treasury lawmakers in the House – to save Nawaz Sharif.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid, opposition leader Khurshid Shah, Shazia Marri and others exchanged allegation over the role of each other’s parties for their past support for dictators.

Shah and Marri questioned Zahid Hamid’s past as he stood with former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and defended his actions.

Hamid hit back saying the PPP was trying to restore the same clause that was removed by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Marri asked Hamid not to “teach democracy” to the PPP and instead look at his own political career – tainted with changing loyalties.