ISLAMABAD - Panicked lawmakers were not inclined to step into the National Assembly hall – read ring – as the ‘Royal Rumble’ that broke a day earlier looked hot enough for a second round.

There were less than 20 lawmakers when the session resumed on Friday and less than 50 when — within a few minutes — National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq announced to temporarily adjourn the proceedings for a meeting to stop a fresh round of fist fight and punching.

It was not long when the session was adjourned until January 30 in the hope that the fuming wrestlers –read lawmakers – might have cooled down enough by then to avoid physical contact.

When the fighting lawmakers were separated by a contingent of peacemakers last day, there were fears the fight may only have been ‘adjourned’ to resume again when the rival legislators return to the hall.

The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chose to stay away from the business hall as the speaker led a meeting to defuse the tension. The ‘positive’ parleys remained inconclusive, however.

Insiders said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had asked his ministers and lawmakers to remain patient towards possible hostile statements from the PTI to avoid further bitterness.

“The PM has asked us to tolerate their provocations but there is a limit to everything. We will not allow them to malign our leadership,” a key minister said. He, however, accused the PTI of starting the ‘whole drama’ after creating ‘unnecessary hype’ over the Panama leaks scandal.

The last day’s brawl was one of the rare occasions when the lawmakers broke all rules to physically harm each other. Journalists sitting in the press gallery believed the ‘wrestling’ was brewing for the last several weeks as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the PTI have faced-off in the Supreme Court over the Panama leaks case. “I fear, it could happen on the premises of the Supreme Court too. The tension has been rising steadily,” said a journalist.

PTI chief Imran Khan was not as patient as PM Sharif and even questioned the need for ‘such an assembly’, proposing to ‘shut’ it down. The PTI chief said that running the National Assembly where the government could not tolerate opposition’s criticism was tantamount to wasting public money.

“We should better shut such assembly and save people’s money. Corruption is our main issue and they are not ready to listen. They only reacted to our criticism,” Khan said while talking about the fighting inside the assembly.

Senior PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that his party will boycott the proceedings until Shehryar Afridi’s assembly membership was restored. “We will not allow them to target the PTI,” he warned.

Opposition Leader in National Assembly Khurshid Shah said that the Panama leaks case had heightened the tensions and the nation was awaiting a verdict of the Supreme Court.

“The fighting inside the assembly cannot be justified under any circumstances but we believe the Panama leaks case, the root cause of tension, should be solved sooner than later,” he said.

After the ‘parliamentary brawl’ the authorities restricted video recording in the National Assembly keeping in view that the footage of the last days’ freestyle fighting’ had gone viral, embarrassing the politicians across the divide.

The parliamentary leaders will meet again on January 30 to determine who started the fight and those involved in the ugly incident. The PTI wants action against Federal Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other PML-N leaders which the government may not easily accept.

The PTI also submitted a privilege motion in the National Assembly Secretariat against PML-N lawmakers - Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Mian Mannan, Capt (retd) Mohammed Safdar and others. The motion has been signed by 23 PTI legislators. The second largest opposition party alleged that the PML-N lawmakers hurled abuses and physically attacked them which resulted in the brawl.

The NA speaker has offered to resign as part of a solution. “Shehryar Afridi’s membership is suspended for now. I am ready to quit if they are not satisfied with my neutrality,” he said after the parliamentary leaders’ meeting.

Sadiq said that the Panama leaks case was being heard by the Supreme Court and should not be discussed in the Parliament.

Outside the Parliament, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed labelled the speaker as the ‘root cause’ of all parliamentary issues.

Given that the PML-N and the PTI are not ready to show too much flexibility, the ‘Royal Rumble’ may well continue!

'Royal Rumble' adjourned!