LAHORE -  It seems Punjab Assembly is celebrating Panama Week; but in the absence of rhythmic quorum bells usually heard in the corridors and lobbies during the previous sessions.

Legislation has been put on the back burner for the time being though some Bills were introduced in the last three days.

A total of 146 lawmakers of the PML-N attended the sitting on Wednesday also including nine Ministers and an equal number of Parliamentary Secretaries.

Chief Whip Rana Muhammad Arshad proudly said that yesterday that Assembly was not facing any quorum issue since start of the present session.

It has been learnt that Chief Minister’s quorum brigade has the instructions to enforce a strict regime on the ruling party members after announcement of the Panama verdict.

They have to be present in the House in sufficient numbers to repulse any possible onslaught from the Opposition benches. And once they enter the Assembly premises, their exit should be made impossible till adjournment of the sitting. A few may have the urgency to leave but they will have to convince the Chief Minister’s men posted at the entry point.

Or they will have to assure the officials they will be back in a while.

Many are extremely upset over this regimentation, but they have no choice but to observe the new code. 

Initially, the session was called for two weeks, but it will last for one week in the new situation. It is because the Opposition will make it a routine business to speak on the Panama verdict in the House. And it is following this practice for the last three days.

If the PTI-led Opposition is agitating the issue inside the Assembly, the PML-N has chosen to present its defence before the media at the Assembly stairs. For the last three days, Punjab Law Minister is repeating the same mantra that Opposition was doing politics on the dissenting notes by the two judges.

He is also telling Justice Khosa that he should have started writing his note quoting a verse from the Holy Quran because we don’t believe in the fiction or novels and that too written by non-Muslims. 

After the court judgment, the Law Minister is repeatedly calling the petitioners with derogatory names for demanding Prime Minister’s resignation on the basis of dissenting notes which is not the judgment.

For the Law Minister, the PTI chief Imran Khan is now “Ilzaam Khan”, Ameer Jamat-e-Islami Sirajul Haq has become a “Makkar Moulvi” and Awami League head Sheikh Rashid is” Rawalpindi ka Shaitaan.”.

On Wednesday, Rana demanded of the Chief Justice of Pakistan to probe the new allegation of “Ilzaam Khan” about Rs 10 billion offer allegedly made to him from the PML-N side to keep mum over the Panama issue.

So far, the Minister has not given any new ‘title’ to PPP President Asif Ali Zardari though the latter has also initiated scathing criticism against the Sharifs.

Law Ninister thinks that Panama case is a political issue and the opponents were competing with each other to establish credentials of their being a genuine and a stronger Opposition. As per his assessment, Asif Ali Zardari is leading the race.

In the first two days of the present session, Opposition Leader Mehmoodur Rashid has been pressing the Speaker hard to grant him permission to move an out of turn resolution about Prime Minister’s resignation. But it was denied to him on technical grounds for two consecutive days.

As a natural outcome, the ritual of sloganeering started in the House with Opposition members chanting slogans against the Prime Minister and tearing apart copies of the day’s agenda. 

Yesterday, he agitated the same issue but in a different way.  Speaking on a point of order, the Opposition leader drew Speaker’s attention towards police crackdown on Mianwali shopkeepers for writing “Go Nawaz Go” slogan in front of their shops.

He also cited the arrests of some students earlier made during PSL final in Lahore for chanting the same slogan. This followed pandemonium in the House on the third consecutive day.