For another time, Murad Saeed, ‘the fighter minister,’ had to speak in the national assembly Monday to firmly convey the message that the Imran government was just not willing to forget and forgive, “looters and plunderers” allegedly crowding both the major opposition parties, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

His anger looked somewhat odd in the context of a feel-good message, conveyed at the outset of Monday sitting. Without much ado the opposition finally let the government lay an Ordinance, none other than Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had savagely been describing as sort of a relief instrument, specifically designed to facilitate a high grade Indian spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav.

After being caught from the soil of Pakistan in March 2016, this zealous operative of the Indian Intelligence Agency had instantly confessed instigating and supervising various acts of large-scale terrorism, mostly in Balochistan and Sindh. This earned the death sentence for him by a military court.

In sheer panic, India rushed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The Court “stayed” the death sentence after lengthy legal battles. It also directed Pakistan to “effectively review and reconsider” the sentence awarded to him. But India and Jadhav refused to approach the high court to help execution of the prescribed process. That forced Pakistan to find some means to do the same on its own. An Ordinance was issued from the President’s office to kick-start the directed process.

The government’s initiative provoked the opposition to viciously recall how furiously Imran Khan and his party had previously milked the Jadhav story to project Nawaz Sharif as “Modi Ka Yaar.” They constantly drummed the allegation that the former Prime Minister always acted ‘soft,’ when it came to India. His “business interests” were held responsible for this approach.

The PPP and its Chairman remained far more furious than Nawaz Sharif’s loyalists to score brownie points against the government on this matter. For two consecutive days, they did not let the government lay the Jadhav-related Ordinance in the national assembly.

Eventually, Faroogh Nasim returned to the federal cabinet, for the third time in two years of the Imran government late last week. After taking oath as the law minister, he came to the national assembly previous Friday. There, he delivered a pleading speech to explain about how the Jadhav-related law served the “supreme national interest.” The opposition could not afford to look ‘unpatriotic’ after his cool but argument-based speech.


The story didn’t end there. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also announced Monday that the opposition was now willing to cooperate with the government in smooth adoption of a set of laws that Pakistan’s parliament needed to pass, speedily, to get itself off from the ‘grey list’ of Financial Action Task Force (FATF). That helped Dr. Babar Awan, the minister of parliamentary affairs, to formally lay the said bills before the house. Their speedy passage could now be taken almost for granted.


Taking advantage of its majority in the Senate, the opposition had also ‘rejected’ a significant number of laws, the national assembly had already approved. They now need to be considered by the joint sitting of both houses of parliament. The opposition didn’t resist moves in the said context as well.


It was but obvious that discreet efforts by institutions, vigilantly watching over the supreme national interests, had finally persuaded the government and the opposition to take the route of consensus-building for effectively delivering on issues, the so-called global forums were keenly interested in.


Still, the ruling party hawks wanted to tell the opposition that it must not presume that the cooperative behavior could extract relief for “looters and plunderers,” allegedly crowding its ranks. Their accountability would go on, nonstop.


As if to set the tone for transmitting this message, Amjad Ali Khan, a ruling party backbencher, was given the floor. Ostensibly, he was to deliver a speech on the issued of privatization, currently being discussed in the house. But he began his speech by recalling as to how General Zia had de-nationalized some business outfits Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had taken over in the early 1970.


In this respect, Amjad Khan repeatedly talked about “the adopted son of Zia,” a not so oblique reference to Nawaz Sharif. He turned doubly contemptuous while wondering why the party, (obviously the PPP), had been behaving so ‘friendly’ to the party of Nawaz Sharif, despite pretending as the legitimate heirs of Bhutto’s legacy.


After failing to find any convincing answer to his loud thinking, he pronounced in utter frustration that “ideology” meant nothing for both the PML-N and the PPP. They had been taking turns in power since 2008 and continued protecting and patronizing the greed-driven ‘mafias.’ That helped the surge of Imran Khan and his party on the political horizon. Pakistan is no more a hostage to these two parties.


His speech hardly cared to even casually touch the under discussion issue, the privatization. That facilitated Abdul Qadir Patel to spin the counter points. This PPP member from Karachi has proven to be a ‘deadly weapon’ of his party. His inimitable humor is unmatchable. But he wasn’t very engaging and entertaining Monday. The issue of privatization also remained almost untouched by him.


After Patel, Murad Saeed walked into the house. Normally, he furiously reacts to the speeches delivered by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Monday proved different, however, because he wanted to explain a point related to the building of a road connecting Dir to Chitral.


The PML-N had been claiming that its government had motivated China to connect Gilgit to Chitral via a modern highway, conceived under the banner of China-Pakistan-Economic-Cooperation (CPEC). Being the communication minister of the Imran government, Murad Saeed, vehemently keeps denying this claim. The proposed highway covers vast areas of his constituency, Malakund/Swat, and he remains too anxious to establish that his focused efforts led to building of this road.


During the days of Nawaz Sharif, Ahsan Iqbal, was considered as the point person for CPEC-related projects for being the federal minister of planning. Murad Saeed hates him and never spares the opportunity of taking him on with taunts and barbs. He did the same Monday. That provoked Ahsan Iqbal to respond with a ‘fact-based’ answer.


Iqbal firmly insisted that the idea of the said highway was approved, way back in December 2016 during the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of the CPEC. Murad Saeed or the PTI had nothing to do with it. After telling his side of the story, he also recalled with a hurt heart that Saeed had often been accusing him of taking huge kickbacks for the construction of Multan-Sukkur highway, which also fell under CPEC. He furiously dared the minister to prove the charge.


Saeed could not let him get away with it. He again took the floor to forcefully insist that there had been a person, called Javed Sadiq. He allegedly was a “front man” of Shahbaz Sharif, the PML-N President, and he had amassed “millions of dollars” through the said project.


Ahsan Iqbal had to respond and he kept insisting that the named person, in effect, represented a Chinese multinational. The Chinese had put this company in the panel of three companies, invited to bid for the construction of Multan-Sukkur highway. The government of Pakistan had nothing to do with it. He also claimed that “fake stories,” Murad Saeed had been spreading, merely to malign Ahsan Iqbal and Shahbaz Sharif, had rather furnished material for the US officials to question the transparency of CPEC-related projects in Pakistan.


Whatever the facts, the appearances of “consensus building” for the sake of “supreme national interests of Pakistan” quickly went down the drain within a few initial minutes of the national assembly proceedings of Monday.