ISLAMABAD - National Assembly seems to be the only place where the ruling but embattled Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) finds solace at a time when the road outside the lower house is echoing with anti-government slogans.
Even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who nowadays feels uncomfortable in the luxurious PM Secretariat, takes a sigh of relief when he shows up at a session of the lower house where he enjoys support of opposition forces against the long marches of PTI and firebrand cleric Dr Tahirul Qadri.
The support given by opposition forces to Prime Minister Sharif appears to have made the PML-N’s own MNAs relaxed since there is nothing for them to counter from the other side of the aisle. On Tuesday when opposition lawmakers gave impassioned speeches on the floor of house terming the two-week long sit-ins on Constitution Avenue as a threat to constitution, PML-N MNAs who were required to thump the desks were instead observed whispering into the ears of female lawmakers.
With most of the ministers missing from the session except Sheikh Aftab, Abid Sher Ali and Lt Gen (Retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, the rest of PML-N lawmakers present in the house seemed like members of opposition parties as members of PPP, JUI-F and FATA lawmakers continued singing the songs of Premier Sharif.
Seated amidst half a dozen women lawmakers, Malik Ibrar who represents a garrison constituency of Rawalpindi for PML-N seemed lost in his company failing the chance to hear the speech of PPP lawmaker Mir Shabbir Bajarani in which he termed the demand of resignation of Prime Minister as unconstitutional.
The lower house was all support for the ruling party but the only thing that was missing was the thumping of desks as PML-N lawmakers were too occupied with making hand shakes than extending arm to the desk.
The only ruling party’s member who spoke on the floor of house was Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab after he was given a chance by Deputy Speaker Murtaza Abbasi. According to the minister, the overdrive of the government for initiating uplift work was the only ‘fault’ for which Pemier Sharif was demanded to step down.
Abid Sher Ali, whose speech usually plunges his party into trouble, appeared to be keeping mum on the current political impasse and was observed playing with his smart phone.
Since the supporters of Imran Khan and Dr Qadri occupied roads in Islamabad as protest against the government, the National Assembly seems virtually dysfunctional and ineffective when it comes to resolve the issue politically.
None of the heavyweight lawmakers including Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah and nationalist leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai in the lower house succeeded in calming down the two angry leaders on Constitution Avenue.
There seems to be more efforts in the corridors of National Assembly than on the floor of house regarding strategies to weaken the leadership of PTI and PAT.
For example, some parliamentary leaders have been whispering into the ears of Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq to accept the resignations of PTI MNAs sent to his office or convince some of the lawmakers to refuse to resign.
According to officials in Speaker’s Chamber, the PTI has sent the list of 26 MNAs out of its 34 lawmakers in the lower house, adding eight MNAs of the party have refused to tender resignation.
In fact it was the idea of Achakzai who had advised the government to make a split in ranks of PTI in order to weaken Imran Khan. However, Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah does not advise the speaker to accept resignations of PTI lawmakers.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday also discussed the issue of PTI’s resignation stunt with Achakzai. Fazl is the one who would love to hear the glad tidings in case Speaker Ayaz Sadiq accepts the resignations.