A fight broke out in the National Assembly on Thursday between members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz after a heated exchange of sloganeering between members of both parties.

While most would condemn the terrible behaviour, and indeed it should be condemned, the case just shows the pent-up frustration that these lawmakers have. While physical harm should never be resorted to, at least they were in parliament, expressing their grievances. Brawls in the legislature are nothing new and have even happened in the most developed democracies in the recent past. In 2015, a brawl broke out in Japan's parliament after the upper house approved controversial security bills, members of the opposition tried to grab the microphone of the chairman of the house. In 1972, a British female MP struck another in the face. The US also has many cases of similar fights breaking out in national and state legislatures. The fact is that politics is emotional and stressful, and once in a while, such a mistake happens.

This is not to absolve the Speaker of the House of his responsibility to maintain discipline. The joint opposition in the National Assembly, including PTI and PPP, had submitted a privilege motion against the Prime Minister over, what they called, a difference of his stance in the House and by his lawyer in the Supreme Court about the money trail of the Sharif family's assets. The Speaker did not admit the privilege motion in the House. When slogans were raised against the PML-N by the thwarted PTI, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi tried approaching Shah Mehmood Qureshi and was intercepted by PTI lawmakers Murad Saeed and Shehryar Afridi. Decorum deteriorated and a fight broke out between the members. Speaker of the House Sardar Ayaz Sadiq blamed Qureshi for the scuffle. Yet, as a neutral arbitrator, the Speaker also often falls short in maintaining discipline and there are many other cases of bad behaviour and sloganeering not being effectively managed.

While the brawl itself was alarming, what should be of more concern to the public is what happened next. The Speaker was left with no option but to suspend proceedings of the House for fifteen minutes. When the session started again, members of the PTI and PPP did not show up while members of Jamaat-e-Islami and Muttahida Qaumi Movement later walked out in a protest against the incident. These constant absences and walk-outs are not productive. They leave the ruling party in charge, and the tactic of walkouts is used so frequently that it has lost all effectiveness and impact. The Panama Leaks case is in the Supreme Court, because the opposition did not have the capacity or genius to resolve the issue in parliament. To come to blows over something that is out of their hands and vested in another institution looks like a childish tantrum.