I need to get real and suspend the cynical streak to report with an open mind that Barrister Faroogh Nasim was the charm personified while persuading the opposition to let the government lay an ordinance in the national assembly Friday.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had savagely prevented the tabling of it a day earlier. With an unusually caustic speech, he rather projected the said ordinance as another version of“NRO, the Imran government had sneakily designed to furnish relief” for a high grade Indian spy.

The government felt extremely uncomfortable with his speech. Its ‘fighter minister’, Murad Saeed, rushed into the house with clear intent of getting even. But the PPP Chairman frustrated him by pointing out the lack of quorum.

PTI backbenchers felt cheated; they rather accused “Baby Bhutto” of eluding the counter attack by playing a “childish trick”. But the ruling party did not have the number required to establish quorum in the house. Even an-hour-long recess didn’t help collecting the same and Bhutto-Zardari surely scored a victory point.

That compelled the PTI handlers of the parliamentary business to realize that a different strategy was required to appropriately lay the said ordinance and later seek its smooth adoption by the lower house of parliament. The obsession of getting even would prove counter productive at this point in time. It would rather provoke the opposition to keep rubbing in the Jadhav-connected story to embarrass the Imran government.

Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving and zealous operative of the Indian intelligence agency, was nabbed from the soil of Pakistan, way back on March 3, 2016. In custody he confessed to have personally supervised many incidents of terrorism, mostly in Balochistan and Sindh. That led to his trial in a military court, which announced the death sentence for him on April 10, 2017.

Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister of Pakistan at the times of his arrest. His political opponents ferociously promoted the story that being “Modi Ka Yaar (the friend of Modi, the Indian prime minister), the former prime minister did not appear sufficiently excited about the arrest of a top ranking Indian spy from the soil of Pakistan. The government led by him was also alleged to have maintained “shocking indifference,” when it came to duly present the confessed crimes of a high grade Indian agent before the global community and relevant international forums.

The ardent loyalists of Nawaz Sharif strongly feel that time has now come to turn tables. If you go by the appearances only, instead of executing the death sentence for Jadhav, the Imran government seems trying to “furnish relief”for him. The story is far more complex and complicated, however.

India had gone to International Court of Justice (ICJ) to get Consular Access to Jadhav. While granting the same, the ICJ also stayed the death sentence against him and had directed Pak government to ensure an “effective review and reconsideration” of it. To ensure the same, some kind of appeal has to be filed before the High Court.

Neither the Indian government nor Kulbhushan Jadhav is visibly interested to go for it. Their reluctance forced the government to provide a legal instrument, facilitating the services of a lawyer to pursue the matter. “The International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance” had essentially been issued to kick-start the required process. Only the approval by both houses of our parliament can now convert it to a ‘duly passed law.’

Both the Nawaz Sharif loyalists and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari are fully conversant with complications the Imran government has to deal with regarding the Jadhav story. But the loyalists of Nawaz Sharif want to settle old score and the PPP Chairman strongly feels that the PTI government takes the whole parliament for granted. In sheer arrogance, it also disregards the reality that the Imran government doesn’t even hold the simple majority in The Senate.

For sure, complications connected to Jadhav issue require Pakistan to project itself as a responsible State, respecting and adhering to so-called rules-based game of international diplomacy. In normal times, Shah Mehmud Qureshi, the foreign minister, could have invited the opposition representatives for a discreet meeting to seek consensus for dealing with these complication. We are living in deeply polarized times, though, where the government and the opposition remain stuck in either/or antagonism. Scoring points is the only game they keep playing in parliamentary proceedings.

Yet, politics is all about seeking the ‘middle ground,’ and even the Imran government occasionally needs to acknowledge the need for it. And Faroogh Nasim has firmly established his skills to deliver on this front.

Once upon a time, he had been a diehard loyalist of the founder of an “ethnic party,” living in self-exile since the early 1990s. But as a perfect careerist, he eventually associated himself with ‘patriotic version’ of the same outfit, which has joined the ruling coalition led by Imran Khan in August 2018. From the quota, allotted to this group, he ended as the Law Minister.

Nasim also made ‘history’ of sorts by resigning from and returning to the federal cabinet, three times during hardly two years of the same government. For the first time, he left the cabinet in late 2019 to defend the government’s decision of extending the tenure of Army Chief before the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court eventually pressed for a “duly approve law” to regulate such extensions in the tenures of Services Chiefs. For drafting the said law he returned to the cabinet and got the same approved with record-setting speech from both houses of parliament. Then he left the cabinet again to plead for a reference filed against a sitting judge of the Supreme Court. Thursday, he returned to the cabinet for the third time.

Now his immediate priority is to get the Jadhav-related law approved by parliament. To ensure the same, he took the floor of the national assembly Friday, immediately after completion of the question hour. Contrary to venom-spitting conduct, habitually displayed by some PTI ministers like Murad Saeed and Omar Ayub Khan, Faroogh Nasim was astonishingly soft, appeasing and pleading.

At the outset, he cunningly conceded that the Nawaz government was perhaps justified to deny the consular access to Jadhav; after all he was a spy and not a diplomat. But it could somehow not anticipate and prevent India’s approaching ICJ to seek relief for him. “I had never called anybody Modi Ka Yaar,” he ‘humbly’ told Khawaja Asif to soften his heart. He continued employing the syrupy tongue to describe some people sitting on the opposition benches as “dear and close friends.”

Starting with the charm offensive, he then went on and on like an accomplished lawyer to explain significant points of ICJ’s direction to Pakistan. After a detailed explanation, he forewarned the opposition that India, in effect, desperately wanted that Pakistan should appear as if disregarding the ICJ-set “obligations”, related to Jadhav case. That would help India, he added, to project Pakistan as a ‘rogue state’ and approach ICJ, even the UN Security Council. That can lead to negative consequence.

The Law Minister kept pleading that the opposition should appreciate that Jadhav issue is highly ‘sensitive’. We should handle this “high security issue” while keeping the “national interest” supreme in our minds.

I seriously suspect that his passionate and deferential pleading wasn’t enough to completely melt the opposition. He still needs discreet visits to some of its leaders to finally deliver the fresh task, which fell into his lap after taking the oath of his office Thursday, for the third time in less than two years.