The general discussion on first budget of the Imran Government reached the “also ran” stage of speech making on Saturday. Even two high profile leaders of the PML-N failed to grab at­tention or incite the government benches for aggressive reaction.

Shahid Khakan Abbassi, a former Prime Minister, sounded more like a technocrat than an experienced politician while taking on the budgetary proposals that Dr Hafeez Shaikh prepared in haste to fulfill “preconditions” that the IMF had set for approving a bailout package for Pakistan.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the former Speaker of the National Assembly during the previous PML-N government, adopted a friends-to-all type ap­proach while isolating Imran Khan for tickling taunts.

He and the prime minister had remained buddies for years. Ayaz Sadiq had rather tried to reach the National Assembly on a PTI ticket many decades ago, before switching to the PML-N to start his parliamentary career.

In 2013, he defeated Imran Khan for a Na­tional Assembly seat from Lahore. “The Captain” refused to forgive and forget it. Long drawn out battles in courts eventually enforced a by-election and Sadiq returned to the House after winning a fierce and very costly contest. That turned him ex­tremely bitter about his old pal.

Yet, the former Speaker remains friendly and deferential to most PTI legislators. He also sa­vors access to “channels” that can help Nawaz Sharif to strike a deal or manage some relief from quarters decisively relevant to power play in Pakistan.

Although sitting on front opposition benches these days, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq continues to dis­creetly build contacts and credentials to project himself as “acceptable to all” sort of a moderate.

To be fair, however, you can’t hold Shahid Khakan Abbassi and Ayaz Sadiq exclusively responsible for projecting a “soft and flexible” façade about the PML-N.

Through a yawn-inducing speech that the Opposition Leader, Mian Shehbaz Sharif, had stretched to three long hours on Thursday had set the “line” for them.

The insipid speech of Shehbaz Sharif clearly conveyed that he and his colleagues would prefer to avoid ‘do or die’ confrontation with Imran Government. Although rejecting the “IMF-made budget” at the tail end of his speech, Shehbaz Sharif kept pressing for seeking “an accord of economy” with the government.

He had no objection to formation of a high powered Commission, established with Prime Minister’s direct order, to probe into the rea­sons and processes that ended in pilings un­bearably huge amounts of foreign debts that two governments of the PPP and the PML-N kept accumulating from 2008 to 2018.

Living up to his reputation of a pragmatic politician, knowing his limitations to survive and thrive in a quasi-democratic polity, Sheh­baz Sharif was loud and clear in communicat­ing the message that he and most of the 80-plus MNAs of the PML-N do want to work with the government. They only seek “respect” and some “accommodation” in return.

Little wonder, Maryam Nawaz Sharif was compelled to address a 75-minute-long press conference in Lahore Saturday afternoon.

The operative parts of her presser lucidly transmitted the message that through their speeches during the ongoing session of the Na­tional Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif and his parlia­mentary team simply failed to project the “real thoughts” of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

The ailing “Quaid” of the PML-N is spending time in jail these days. His daughter has candid­ly amplified his thoughts through the presser of Saturday.

The so-called “hawks” and “doves” from within the PML-N have clearly defined their territories and priorities through the press conference of Ms Sharif Saturday.

For the likes of Shahid Khakan Abbassi, Sar­dar Ayaz Sadiq and Khawaja Asif, it would now become almost impossible to pretend indiffer­ent or non-partisan to the divide that has sur­face like a bang Saturday.

We need no tutor to fathom from now on that there is a “Parliamentary Party” of the PML-N, headed by a “pragmatic” Shehbaz Sharif. And there is the PML-N, which is trying to reflect the “real thoughts” of Nawaz Sharif and the accu­mulated ire and frustration of its cadres and the majority of its “vote bank.”

It indeed is too early to predict which line and camp will prevail in the end. One thing is sure, though: Prime Minister and his support­ers must be feeling quite good over surfacing of the deep divide within the PML-N.

Too close to the passage of their govern­ment’s first budget, their main enemy looks confused and divided. It will not have enough time and energy to seek voting out the bud­getary proposals with diligent working for an alliance, comprising all parties, groups and in­dividuals who had not returned to the current National Assembly with PTI tickets.

As reported earlier, there surely is visible heartburning simmering within the majority of PTI backbenchers.

The “ideological core” doesn’t feel comfort­able with absolute command and control that unelected “technocrats landing from abroad” and “crony-type advisers and special assis­tants” are relishing these days.

A huge group of the so-called “electables” to “channels” that can help Nawaz Sharif to strike a deal or manage some relief from quarters decisively relevant to power play in Pakistan.

Although sitting on front opposition benches these days, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq continues to discreetly build contacts and credentials to project himself as “acceptable to all” sort of a moderate.

To be fair, however, you can’t hold Shahid Khakan Abbassi and Ayaz Sadiq exclusively responsible for projecting a “soft and flexible” façade about the PML-N.

Through a yawn-inducing speech that the Opposition Leader, Mian Shehbaz Sharif, had stretched to three long hours on Thursday had set the “line” for them.

The insipid speech of Shehbaz Sharif clearly conveyed that he and his colleagues would prefer to avoid ‘do or die’ confrontation with Imran Government. Although rejecting the “IMF-made budget” at the tail end of his speech, Shehbaz Sharif kept pressing for seeking “an accord of economy” with the government.

He had no objection to formation of a high powered Commission, established with Prime Minister’s direct order, to probe into the reasons and processes that ended in pilings unbearably huge amounts of foreign debts that two governments of the PPP and the PML-N kept accumulating from 2008 to 2018.

Living up to his reputation of a pragmatic politician, knowing his limitations to survive and thrive in a quasi-democratic polity, Shehbaz Sharif was loud and clear in communicating the message that he and most of the 80-plus MNAs of the PML-N do want to work with the government. They only seek “respect” and some “accommodation” in return.

Little wonder, Maryam Nawaz Sharif was compelled to address a 75-minute-long press conference in Lahore Saturday afternoon.

The operative parts of her presser lucidly transmitted the message that through their speeches during the ongoing session of the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif and his parliamentary team simply failed to project the “real thoughts” of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

The ailing “Quaid” of the PML-N is spending time in jail these days. His daughter has candidly amplified his thoughts through the presser of Saturday. The so-called “hawks” and “doves” from within the PML-N have clearly defined their territories and priorities through the press conference of Ms Sharif Saturday.

For the likes of Shahid Khakan Abbassi, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Khawaja Asif, it would now become almost impossible to pretend indifferent or non-partisan to the divide that has surface like a bang Saturday.

We need no tutor to fathom from now on that there is a “Parliamentary Party” of the PML-N, headed by a “pragmatic” Shehbaz Sharif. And there is the PML-N, which is trying to reflect the “real thoughts” of Nawaz Sharif and the accumulated ire and frustration of its cadres and the majority of its “vote bank.”

It indeed is too early to predict which line and camp will prevail in the end. One thing is sure, though: Prime Minister and his supporters must be feeling quite good over surfacing of the deep divide within the PML-N.

Too close to the passage of their government’s first budget, their main enemy looks confused and divided. It will not have enough time and energy to seek voting out the budgetary proposals with diligent working for an alliance, comprising all parties, groups and individuals who had not returned to the current National Assembly with PTI tickets.

As reported earlier, there surely is visible heartburning simmering within the majority of PTI backbenchers.  The “ideological core” doesn’t feel comfortable with absolute command and control that unelected “technocrats landing from abroad” and “crony-type advisers and special assistants” are relishing these days.

A huge group of the so-called “electables” that switched loyalties to the PTI close to elections of 2018 also feels shy to ‘own’ the budget that Dr Hafeez Shaikh had prepared to satisfy the IMF.

They claim to be “hiding from voters in home constituencies” for having no answers to questions that anxiously want to know the real causes behind the huge increase in rates of essential utilities like electricity and government-supplied gas to homes.

The recent wave of inflation turns doubly intolerable in an economic scene that appears melting down with no hope of recovery.

Bickering in whispers, both the “ideological group” and the so-called “electables” assembled in the PTI these days, however, strongly feel that “permanent” outfits of the state power seriously believe that the IMF prescribed medicine to cure our economy is “unavoidable” in order to ensure the state survival.

By generating the feel of a house-divided Saturday, the PML-N has rather helped the bickering types from within the PTI to get ready for gulping the IMF-prescribed medicine by eventually approving the first budget of the Imran Government with loud and clear voice voting.