The majority of parliamentary reporters, studiously watching the national assembly proceedings by being physically present in the press gallery even in fear-inducing times of COVID-19, have been feeling too excited for the past ten days.

Focusing on number-driven realities, they expected serious troubles for the PTI government, when it would come to getting its budget passed. Without the support of disparate sort of “allies,” Imran Khan can’t survive in Prime Minister’s Office. And some weighty allies appear as if “looking for alternatives.”

Sardar Akhter Mengal of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) had provided solid content to this feeling by announcing split from the ruling alliance through a passionate speech, he had delivered during general discussion on budgetary proposals around two weeks ago. After him “dissenting” voices from the PTI backbenches also began embarrassing the government.

Finally, an interview went viral on social media. Through the same, a media-savvy minister of the Imran government, Fawad Chaudhry, promoted the feeling that things were no more in complete command and control of Imran Khan. His cabinet was split in groups, viciously competing for more territory and influence.

Notwithstanding the appearances of the drift, the hardened reporter in me always felt that the Imran government would get its budget passed without much ado. The final phase of budget-passing phase affirmed my gut feeling Friday.

In spite of being present in the house with 140-plus members, both the main opposition parties, the PML-N and the PPP, almost made “history” by generously abandoning their right of blocking the smooth passage of a budget, with energetic employment of the weapon, called ‘cut motions’ in parliamentary jargon.

These motions are tabled, not only to filibuster but also to often enforce head-counts during clause-by-clause approval of funds allocated to various ministries and government-departments. The opposition also milk the right of tabling cut motions with a determined intent of forcefully taking on a sitting government’s performance on “sensitive” areas like defense and foreign affairs. Our opposition didn’t appear motivated to move on this front as well.

A win-win sort of arrangement was negotiated in the Speaker’s chambers. This ensured rushing through the budget passing ropes. Yet, certain cut motions onsoft-looking subjects were “clubbed.” It helped the opposition to pretend being “alive and kicking.”

By now it has begun to look too obvious that the PTI handlers of the parliamentary business had certainly established some backdoor channels with the opposition. Contrary to deeply polarized appearances, the government and the opposition seem to have agreed to play by a mutually prepared playbook. Only after managing the said understanding, Prime Minister Imran Khan had surprised many by walking in the house Thursday. He also delivered a long speech there. The opposition heard him with deliberate attention and avoided to subvert the flow of his thoughts with rude heckling.

In real time politics, you can’t live up to the promises of goody-goody conduct, though. The business, even in an insipid parliament, can just not be “scripted.” And the Speaker, Asad Qaisar, felt often helpless to move on smoothly during the Friday sitting.

By clubbing the cut motions, the opposition was allowed to discuss the affairs of “cabinet division.” Discussing the affairs of this division, any intelligent parliamentarian can surely create space to point out a plethora of issues, embarrassing a sitting government. Dr. Nafisa Shah of the PPP tried to do the same by referring to the huge embarrassment, Sarwar Khan, the Minister of Civil Aviation, had created not for the PTI government only. At stake now is the reputation of Pakistan and the whole system that regulates the aviation business in this country.

In this column, I have been consistently reporting that while discussing the tragic story of a recent plane crash in Karachi the said minister was not confining himself to read carefully drafted statements. But almost each minister of the Imran Khan arrogantly feels too good about his or her brilliance. They desperately want to show it to the world that previous rulers of Pakistan had been born “dumb.” They could not speak without “PARCHIS (notes and talking points etc.), prepared by their aides.

Imran Khan and his ministers are wisdom personified. They always speak extempore and can fluently discuss any issue under the sun, without consulting notes. Sarwar Khan couldn’t dare violating the “established code,” while discussing the plane crash in Karachi.

Instead of merely informing us about the specific details, exclusively related to plane crash, he often drifted to promote the PTI narrative, which fervently wants us to believe that “looters and plunderers” running the previous governments had ruined all forms of governance in this country. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the Civil Aviation also suffered the “collateral damage.”

To promote the “corruption-ridden” image of Pakistan, Sarwar Khan recklessly kept claiming, while speaking from the national assembly floor, that at least “290 out of (around) 800 pilots” in Pakistan had been flying planes after acquiring license to fly by “dubious means.” He also accused many pilots for holding “fake degree.”

I continued to plead in this column that Sarwar Khan should refrain from bad mouthing PIA. After all, as the minister in charge of aviation, he is responsible to protect the reputation of this brand. But ministers of the Imran government hate to read the print media. Like their leader, they seriously believe that it is a “dead genre.” Electronic media is the “in” thing these days. You should just look good and combative on TV.

Sarwar Khan’s “combative” telling of nothing-but-the truth had finally reached the global media. Throughout Thursday, a network of tremendous global reach CNN, which travellers all over the world also watch keenly, continued hyping the story of “30 per cent of pilots flying planes in Pakistan” after acquiring the license to fly by “dubious means.”

The hyped story disregarded the fact that even Sarwar Khan had accused only FOUR PIA pilots for holding suspicious-looking credentials. But TV journalists are not in the habit of combing details. They milk the dominant themes and Sarwar Khan had, for sure, preferred to primarily hawk the same story that CNN continued drumming throughout Thursday.

Talking about the media hype and things gone viral on social media, I also have to report that many opposition members frequently kept recalling that during his lengthy speech in the national assembly Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had called Osama Bin Laden a “martyr.” They feigned being very concerned about it, fearing this might have “serious repercussions” for Pakistan.

The cynical me has serious doubts. The US had, for sure, violated our sovereignty and embarrassed Pakistan by sending its planes and commandos to Abbottabad in late night of May 1, 2010 to get Osama. It had happened during the days of Obama, though.

Donald Trump, the incumbent US President, does not own Obama’s legacy. So far, he has also met Prime Minister Imran Khan, not once but three times. Trump calls Imran Khan a “close friend” and had even tried to pamper him by offering “mediation” for resolution of the Kashmir issue. He also has his own priorities for Afghanistan and fondly looks up to Imran Khan for achieving them.

During his speech of Thursday, the Prime Minister of Pakistan also revealed that Lindsay Graham, a US Senator savoring active access to President Trump, had admitted during a meeting with him in Islamabad that Imran Khan’s position on Afghanistan had always been correct. There is no military solution to Afghanistan. The lasting peace in that country could only be achieved through negotiations. Obviously with Taliban, once called “terrorists” by the US.

Donald Trump and Imran Khan have already reached the “same page” regarding Afghanistan. I will not be surprised if Trump also decides to revisit the status of Osama Bin Laden after listening to Thursday-speech of his “friend.”