For around a decade, Ms Andleeb Abbass has been promoting the PTI narrative by vigorously participating in TV talk shows. She surely deserves attentive listening, if someone really wants to fathom the dominant themes, motivating what we call ‘the base’ of a political party. Thanks to the speech she delivered in the national assembly Monday, I also felt compelled to consider Pakistan’s problems with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) from an entirely new angle.

This global outfit had put Pakistan on its “grey list.” Normally a country is pushed there if presumably found not being able to check “terrors financing” on or through its soil. Ms. Abbass took long to explain, however, that “terror financing” was not the sole issue, the FATF deals with. “Money laundering” is also its concern and Pakistan has been pushed to its “grey list,” due to Asif Ali Zardaris and Nawaz Sharifs of this world.

With utmost contempt, Ms. Abbass kept insisting that both of them were compulsively addicted to abusing their political power for amassing “millions.” The huge amount of money they ruthlessly extracted from Pakistan was then transferred abroad to buy luxurious properties in many countries of the world. This required habitual dependence on multiple means of “laundering” the ill-gotten money.

Both these characters, Ms Abbass went on, were the actual drivers of the governments, which had been ruling Pakistan from 2008 to 2018. For obvious reasons the previous governments felt reluctant to confront the menace of money laundering. FATF was thus forced to put us on its grey list.

With the advent of the Imran government in August 2018, Ms Abbass claimed with obvious sigh of relief, the FATF kind of outfits seriously began to develop trust in its style of governance. The global community also realized that a leader with spotless integrity, i.e., Imran Khan, was now leading Pakistan and he would never blink an eyelid while combating money laundering. Explaining the delicate nuances, related to FATF operation, Ms Abbass never cared to state the latest status of Pakistan, vis-à-vis the grey list.

Ms Hina Rabbani Khar took the floor immediately after Ms Abbass. She had taken command of the Foreign Office during Yousaf Raza Gillani-led government of PPP in 2011.

Shah Mahmud Qureshi, the incumbent foreign minister, was holding the same portfolio during initial three years of the Gillani government. But he resigned in protest; the hyper patriot in him could not agree with the soft and lenient approach, the Gillani-government was alleged to have adopted for dealing with the blowback of “Raymond Davis Affair.” This “security officer” was attached to the US Consulate in Lahore and was caught red handed after killing two Pakistanis, at a crowded square and in broad daylight, in a brazen manner.

Anyway, in spite of being relatively young, Ms Khar has not disappointed even worst of her critics as the foreign minister of Pakistan. Before switching to the foreign ministry, she also had served as the state minister of economic affairs, an office providing active exposure to the priorities set by ultimate monitors of the global economy. I genuinely expected her to explain what had really pushed Pakistan to FATF’s grey list.

Contrary to her polite demeanor, Hina Rabbani Khar sounded quite bitter Monday. Swayed with the rage, which smacked of losing hope, she rather preferred to take on what she described as “hypocritical conduct” of the PTI government.

Doing this, she recalled the oft-repeated position of Asad Umar, a lead star of the PTI government. He gets extremely annoyed, when discussing the “actual impact” of COVID-19, anyone dares to quote from figures and projections prepared by some international organizations. With utmost contempt, Umar derides “the West-emulating” mindset.

Recalling his consistent stance, tauntingly, Ms Khar feigned to act surprised while stressing that defending and praising the budgetary proposals of their government, speaker after speaker from the PTI benches kept enthusiastically quoting from “foreign publications.” Foreign publications and experts, she said, only prove good and credible if they praise the Imran government. They deserve mocking, otherwise.

For another time, Abdul Qadir Patel of the PPP delivered a very engaging and entertaining speech. Gradually, he surely seems mastering the art of satire. Brilliantly employing its nuances, he even earned hearty laughter from ruling party backbenchers Monday. He had often been found being reckless when it came to employ innuendos to deride “the other.” For a change, Patel turned deeply subtle Monday and got away with suggesting things one would feely shy to elaborate in a family newspaper. His fans eagerly promote his speeches in the national assembly on social media. The entertainment starved should rather wait for uploading of his speech of Monday.

Watching the national assembly proceedings while staying at home in times of an ongoing pandemic, I could only imagine some PTI backbenchers wanting to grab the Chair’s attention to make a point. The “pool reporting” later confirmed my hunch. After talking to some parliamentary reporters, watching house proceedings from the press gallery, I can now report that Raja Riaz has been trying to get the floor from Qasim Suri.

Raja Riaz is a very experienced politician from Faisalabad. After spending most of his political life with the PPP, he switched to the PTI for contesting the election in July 2018. For almost two years from 2008 to 2010, Raja Riaz had been the “senior minister” in Shehbaz Sharif-led government of Punjab. After his reaching the national assembly in 2018, most commentators expected him to get a ministerial birth in the federal government. But Imran Khan preferred to ignore him.

Raja Riaz is not a vicious or vindictive type. But like any hardcore politician discreetly waits for the right time to “settle scores.” In this regard, he surprised many by visiting Jehangir Khan Tareen some weeks ago, as if by design, when the PTI spokesperson started to project him as a leading ‘Don’ of the “Sugar Mafia.” Prime Minister Imran Khan felt very upset with his call-on Jehangir Tareen. Raja Riaz had been summoned to Islamabad to explain. The said meeting doesn’t seem to have delivered.

During the national assembly proceedings of Monday, Raja Riaz kept loudly asking for the mic; essentially to tell the story that “not a drop of petrol or diesel” was available “at any sale point,” on the highway that connects Faisalabad with Multan. Qasim Suri, the deputy speaker, firmly refused to recognize him. He rather gave the floor to Zain Qureshi, the son and political heir of Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Raja Riaz walked out of the house in anger.

In spite of sharing the treasury benches, Aslam Bhotani of Balochistan, also sounded not so pleased either. Many hearts, for sure, are burning on backbenches of the PTI and some of them have also begun expressing the accumulated reservations during the general discussion on budgetary proposals. Akhter Mengal has already announced parting with the ruling alliance last week.

In spite of growing cribbing within the ruling alliance, I don’t anticipate any serious problem for the Imran government, when it would put the budgetary proposals for the final approval. Both the main opposition parties, the PML-N and PPP, are simply not interested to harness the growing cribbing and seriously use it for rejecting the second budget of the Imran government by enforcing a nail-biting headcount on it.