Murad Saeed, the youthful minister of Communications, ceaselessly bubbles with hyper energy. He is widely acknowledged for being one of the most influential ministers of the Imran government as well. Yet, it certainly is time for him to fathom that a government does not “condemn” its political opponents through hastily drafted resolutions, subsequently bulldozed in parliament.

If Saeed and his government seriously believed that certain speeches, delivered by some opposition leaders during a public meeting in Quetta on October 25, “outrageously defied the constitution,” duly registered cases should have been initiated to punish them. A “Censoring resolution” rather looked like the half-hearted attempt in juvenile point scoring. The attempt, in the end, also proved hugely embarrassing for the government. 

Brilliantly employing the right to respond through a point of order, Akhter Mengal, the leader of Balochistan National Movement (BNM), smartly turned tables while teasingly recalling that once upon a time Imran Khan had duly recorded a statement for a court in London, approached for checking the “seditious conduct” of Harbeyar Marri. For many years, this prominent heir of a famous Baloch leader has been living in self-exile and loudly associates himself with the demand of “Independent Balochistan.”

Narrating the long litany of “Baloch grievances,” Imran Khan had audaciously asserted in the statement, Mengal was referring to, “that if a Baloch, he might also have spoken and behaved like Harbeyar Marri.” The treasury benches were visibly embarrassed with counter spinning by Mengal. After all, it came from an erstwhile ‘ally’ of the ruling coalition and spun by a person who had spent years with Imran Khan at Aitcheson College of Lahore.  

Mehmud Khan Achakzai, a Pashtun nationalist from Balochistan, had been the main target of the resolution, read by Murad Saeed for launching the “patriotic assault” against the opposition. The minister accused him of “defying” the Constitution by using “derogatory remarks” against Urdu, the national and official language, during Quetta’s rally. Saeed also felt extremely agitated against Achakzai’s stance vis-à-vis erecting a fence on Pak-Afghan border. The resolution he readcondemned Shah Awais Noorani as well. Addressing the rally in Quetta, this PDM leader had sounded as if supporting the demand for “independent” Balochistan. Noorani was quick to admit and apologise for his “slip of tongue.” But the government is yet not willing to forget and forgive.

While bulldozing the opposition-censoring resolution, Murad Saeed also delivered a thundering speech that eventually focused on ruthless lynching of Nawaz Sharif. With utmost contempt, the minister kept pointing the accusing finger to opposition benches for reminding them that the former prime minister was burdened with the reputation of a “certified thief.” The Supreme Court of Pakistan had ejected him out of the prime minister’s office after finding him a “liar and dishonest person.”

 

Saeed also kept asserting that recently formed alliance of the opposition parties, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), had primarily been assembled to build pressure on the Imran government. It desperately wants that “looters and plunderers,” leading and crowding the main opposition parties, should not be tried for serious “crimes of corruption.”

 

As if to prove his point, he flaunted the copy of suggestions, some representatives of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), had presumably “submitted in writing.” Through the same, in the name of “reforming” the anti-corruption body, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), certain amendments were proposed in NAB-regulating law. If approved, these amendmentsmight have completely defanged the anti-corruption body.

 

The minister of communications furiously kept insisting that the opposition proposed the said amendments in return to extend cooperation for the smooth and speedy passages of certain laws, Pakistan desperately required for getting out of the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF). He felt too proud in recalling that the Imran government firmly refused to succumb. For drumming the message that the government would not forget and forgive the real or alleged doings of “looters and plunderers,”he eventually tore the copy of NAB-related proposals as the finale of his dramatic speech.

 

Raja Pervez Ashraf, a former prime minister from the PPP, tried hard to dampen his vigor. Doing so, he remained polite and sedate. He even refrained from rubbing in the point that in spite of getting FATA-connected laws passed in haste, Pakistan remained stuck in the grey list. Without being loud and rude, only Akhter Mengal was able to completely demolish the story, Saeed had tried to promote with delirious anger.

 

Speakers, representing the “patriotic version” of Mutehidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), were far more eager to censor and condemn the “unpatriotic conduct” of some PDM leaders. Mehmud Khan Achakzai remained their main target. Taking on his “anti-Urdu” remarks, one of its legislators, Osama Qadri, even went to the extent of calling him “OOCHAKZAI.”This surely was a highly provocative expression, subtly portraying Mehmud Khan as a petty thief.

 

Being himself a Pashtun, Qasim Suri, the deputy speaker, should have instantly checked this name-calling. But he preferred to sternly deal with Agha Rafi, a regular heckler from the PPP. After failing to handle him with firm words, he finally ordered the Sargent at Arms to take him out of the house. Thanks to cool nerves of Raja Pervez Ashraf, a potentially chaotic scene was prevented.

 

It was too late for Mengal to remind the MQM that Achakzai was a big tribe of the Pashtuns and its representatives should have refrained from a clearly provocative mispronunciation. But the thick-skinned MQM felt no need to apologize.

 

Wednesday was a bad day for the government anyway. Even a steadfastly careful and crafty handler of the parliamentary business, Ali Mohammad Khan drifted to ignite an avoidable controversy.

 

The opposition often taunts the Imran government for releasing an Indian pilot, arrested after shooting down of his plane on Pakistan’s territory, during the heat of tensions in February 2019. Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the former speaker, rubbed in the same point through his speech in the house Wednesday.

 

The state minister of parliamentary affairs, Ali Mohammad Khan, decided to “correct” him. He took the floor to ‘clarify’ that the Imran government had not decided to release the captured pilot on its own. The decision rather surfaced during a briefing, conducted by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Asif Ali Zardari, the former President and the PPP leader, and Shahbaz Sharif, the PML-N leader, had attended the said meeting and it made the “consensus decision” of releasing the Indian pilot as a good will gesture.

 

Ali Mohammad Khan’s attempt to ‘clarify’ backfired as well. It rather enabled Khawaja Asif of the PML-N for delivering a forceful speech. It accused the Prime Minister for being a “well wisher of Modi (the Indian prime minister).” Instead of finishing there, Asif also went on to exclusively blame Imran Khan for the “shameless surrender of Kashmir” to India.

 

Sitting in the presiding chair, Amjad Khan Niazi, quickly expunged the remarks, used against the prime minister. But ‘traitor calling’ has certainly turned the dominated trend in the national assembly from now on. We are certain to see it deepening and drifting to chaotic dimensions.