There surely come moments, even in a completely polarized society, which demand firm unity to convey a forceful message. Sadly, the national assembly of Pakistan, a forum truly reflecting the collective sentiments of our people for being a directly elected house, shamelessly failed to display an iota of it at the outset of its sitting Monday evening. 

The recklessly insane behavior of President Macron of France these days is certainly offensive and provocative. In the name of protecting the “core values” of his country’s “cultural identity,” he continues to take initiatives and issue statements, which deeply hurt the hearts of not only the five million Muslim citizens of his own country but also of more than 1.3 billion followers of Islam, spread over the world. His conduct deserves but contemptuous censoring.

If the Imran government had really been motivated to send a forceful message to him, its foreign minister, Shah Mehmud Qureshi, should have publicly invited the opposition leaders to help him preparing a condemning resolution. Subsequently put in the house, the same would have passed by the house with absolute consensus, without much ado.

The Imran government and his ministers remain obsessed to play “solo”, however, and always prefer to treat “looters and plunderers,” allegedly leading and crowding the opposition parties, almost like pariahs. The arrogant hesitance of the government for taking the opposition on board regarding a highly sentimental issue provoked its leaders to take a stunning initiative on their own.

Khawaja Asif, a vocal frontbencher of the PML-N and very experienced parliamentarian, rushed in the house Monday evening. He forced Qasim Suri, the deputy speaker, to give him the floor and eagerly put a Macron-condemning resolution for approval of the house after getting the mic. 

Being a slavish loyalist, Qasim Suri, remained reluctant to let him proceed. His reluctance provoked Khawaja Asif to deliver a thundering speech. In the flow of enraged fury, he drifted to forewarn that Imran government was fast heading to the fall and “dozens of” legislators from the ruling party were desperately but covertly trying to establish contacts with opposition parties to “protect their future.”

Suri has fast developed the habit of disregarding the opposition by acting deaf and blind. Monday, he appeared completely baffled for a change and humbly kept pleading that the rules clearly demand that before putting a resolution for voting in the house, he should listen to the government’s position on it as well. Chanting the demand of “voting-voting,” the opposition heckled him. But disregarding these chants, he gave the floor to Shah Mehmud Qureshi.

After getting the floor, the foreign minister had a perfect chance to pretend mature and large hearted. He could have easily persuaded the opposition to facilitate the drafting of a “consensus resolution” with equal input from his ministry and the opposition. Instead of opting for an obvious-looking approach, he preferred to deliver a thundering speech to scuttle the feeling that the Imran government was sweating in trouble.

He went on and on to build and drum the story that after holding “tiny” public rallies in various cities of Pakistan, the opposition had begun to imagine self-serving scenarios. Doing this, they were even not fathoming that most speeches, delivered at the opposition rallies, primarily “reflect Modi’s (offensive) language” that he continued using against Pakistan.

The opposition continued disrupting his speech with loud chants of “Loota (turncoat).” This provoked him to turn around and incite the ruling party legislators to take the vow that from now on, no opposition leader would be allowed to speak, uninterrupted. And then he suddenly switched to rush through reading a government-prepared resolution for condemning the recent doings of Islamophobes, primarily led by the French President.

The Deputy Speaker instantly put the same resolution for voting; the cunning manipulator in him instinctively knew that no opposition legislator would dare to oppose the resolution, read by Qureshi.

But Ahsan Iqbal of the PML-N cleverly called his bluff. First he sounded being incurably furious for being called “an agent of Modi.” But as an old parliamentarian, he also knew that it was not the time to score personal points. The occasion clearly demanded that he stayed focused on a highly emotional issue. Turning his attention to it, he took the plea that the language used for the resolution, read by Shah Mehmud Qureshi, miserably failed to appropriately express the collective sentiment of Pakistanis for being too bureaucratic. It sounded neither here nor there.

Asad Umer, the minister of Planning, wisely read the house mood and requested the chair to adjourn the house to facilitate drafting of a consensus resolution. Suri also took no time for discovering the need for it.

The opposition could obviously not run away during the break. It was also bound to help the government in reaching a “consensus resolution,” which eventually was passed by the national assembly of Pakistan. But the bedlam and senseless point scoring, which preceded its passage certainly ruined its impact. Primarily, Shah Mehmud Qureshi failed to prevent it by intelligent handling; he rather went an extra mile to make the scene turn unbearably unpleasant.

I strongly feel that Shah Mehmud Qureshi and the rest of the PTI handlers of the parliamentary business should sincerely approach Sadiq Sanjrani, the Chairman Senate. He should be persuaded to hold special classes for them to impart the skill of dealing with parliamentary business, in far more orderly a manner.

Dr. Wasim Shahzad, otherwise considered a rude and provocative leader of the House, was asked to read the government-prepared draft for condemning the recent events in France at the very beginning of the Senate sitting Monday. Hardly an opposition senator dared to prevent him. After adopting the same resolution with consensus, senator after senator, from both sides of the house was then asked to deliver exhaustive speeches onthe subject.

Thanks to smooth sailing and focused discussion, Senator Mohammad Ali Saif brilliantly suggested that instead of merely condemning the French President with thundering speeches, the government of Pakistan should discreetly goad and help some French citizens of Pak origin to formally approach the European Commission on Human Rights.

The said forum savors a clear mandate and the authority to check and reprimand attempts, made by any government of the European countries, which could lead to endangering the lives of their “citizens” and make them more vulnerable for being marginalized. The same forum is also there to effectively check the hate speech.

One could only wish that the national assembly of Pakistan should also have displayed the kind of maturity and sobriety that the Senate of Pakistan had exercised while sincerely and seriously discussing a matter that had deeply offended the sentiments of all Muslims of the world.