The extempore speech that Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered after passing of his government’s first budget Saturday, indeed sounded measured and sedate. It, however, clearly set an uncompromising narrative that he and his party would continue drumming for many months to come.

Cogently reflecting the rage of “corruption hating” base of the PTI, the prime minister remained consistent to his position that Asif Ali Zardaris and Sharifs of this world were not politicians. They abused their turns in the government ruthlessly to accumulate ill-gotten millions and transferred them abroad by exploiting all possible means of money laundering.

The doom and gloom that we see dominating the economic scene of these days is not produced due to fiscal mismanagement only. Imran Khan strongly believes that the governments preceding his indulged in chronic corruption.

The reckless borrowing from foreign countries and donor agencies was not the sole cause of the unbearable deficit that his economic team tried hard managing to prevent bankruptcy and eventually had to beg for a bailout package from the IMF.

Apparently, the price of US dollar is rising and rising due to preconditions that IMF has set for Pakistan. But the Prime Minister believes that reckless money laundering by our elite was equally responsible for it.

Instead of firmly blocking the money laundering, Sharifs and Zardari-type rulers rather encouraged it by personally espousing the same practice with shameless relish.

With a hurt heart, he kept wondering as to how even after being nabbed for serious charges of corruption, Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif continue to savor the privilege of being brought to National Assembly proceeding and deliver windy but hypocritical speeches from its floor.

In countries like Britain, Imran Khan recalled, charges of money laundering or serious corruption demolishes the career of a politician for good. He or she even feels forced to hide from media. But in Pakistan, they continue to grab headlines and get primetime on TV screens.

Through the Saturday speech, Imran Khan clearly asked his party stalwarts to take on the corrupt politicians with unforgiving vigor. Doing so, he fondly recalled the speech that Murad Saeed, the youthful minister of communication, had delivered immediately after the speech Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had delivered while participating in general discussion on budgetary proposals.

Viciously quoting from a book that a former high-profile US official, Condoleezza Rice had authored, Saeed tried building a forceful story.

It drummed the message that Ms Benazir Bhutto agreed to have a ‘deal’ with General Musharraf, on US goading, to protect herself and her husband from a litany of corruption charges that accountability outfits of the military dictator had established against them. The said “deal” did not reflect any love for democracy.

The Prime Minister also praised the aggressive conduct that Hammad Azhar, the state minister of revenue, had increasingly adopted while confronting the opposition during the budget passing business.

He obviously desired that the rest of PTI representatives should emulate the youthful ministers to show the real faces of most opposition stalwarts to people at large.

After passing the budget, the National Assembly has gone for a long break. The break will certainly deny a powerful platform to the opposition to build its narrative and communicate the same to millions sitting at homes, thanks to mostly live coverage of assembly proceedings.

The sweltering heat of July and August does not encourage holding of mass-contacting rallies. The PTI ministers will surely have time and resources to vigorously project the theme that Imran Khan had set through his speech Saturday in months to come.

Anticipating a formidable assault, the number strong opposition preferred to stay out of the house while the Prime Minister was delivering his speech. They did not care to interrupt him, even with half-hearted heckling.

Perhaps they realized that in future the Speaker might think twice and for long before signing the production orders to ensure a detained MNA’s presence in house proceedings.

While addressing a lengthy press conference in a committee room, Mian Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition leader, also conveyed a hawkish message unequivocally suggesting that he and his party would now focus on building momentum for a final showdown with Imran government.

Instead of saying yes to the possibility of removing Imran Khan through attempting “in-house change”, Shehbaz Sharif rather betrayed his reputation of a “pragmatist” always looking for middle ground to live and let the others live, through his press talk Saturday.

He strongly believed that only fresh elections could furnish a government capable of protecting Pakistan from “total (economic) collapse”. Even if agreeing to his perception, you are forced to contemplate the question: how to enforce mid-term elections on a belligerent-looking Imran Khan?

Shehbaz Sharif cunningly refrained to comment on remarks that the COAS had made at a seminar the other day. They clearly sounded endorsing the priorities Imran government had set to recover and kick-start Pakistan’s economy.

Even otherwise, the national security elite seems firmly believing that to survive and thrive, Pakistan needs to swallow the IMF-prescribed medicine.

The “same page” environment does not leave any space for political opponents of a sitting government to build momentum for do or die showdowns in our country.

Yet, the “pragmatist” Shehbaz Sharif sounded willing to take the route that Maulana Fazlur Rehman had been suggesting since day one of the Imran government.

An overwhelming majority of the PML-N vote bank, especially in Central Punjab, has certainly not been feeling too excited by Shehbaz Sharif’s pragmatism.

It miserably failed to manage any relief for Nawaz Sharif, currently serving a long term in jail.

Shehbaz Sharif is rather feeling the so-called heat now, due to multiple charges of corruption that NAB is pursuing against his person and sons.

And, the PML-N is not designed to build momentum through street agitation.

Essentially considered a party of industrialists and traders, the PML-N used to topple the governments of its opponents with crafty exploitation of intra-elite conflicts. It does not have the skills and cadres to take advantage of the given situation.

There used to be times, when cadre-based parties like Jamaat-e-Islami would create favorable conditions for it. By mid-1990s, the Jamaat preferred to act solo and since then constantly lost its street-agitation edge to more extremist organizations, motivating mobs and individuals with “religion-based” messages.

The JUI-F of Maulana Fazlur Rehman certainly has cadres for staging an impressive show in Islamabad. But 126-day long Dharna in Pakistan’s capital in 2014 failed to work for Imran Khan, even with passionate backing and presence of diehard cadres that Tahir-ul-Qadri had brought to this town.

The so-called hawks, increasingly prevailing upon the policy formulation process of the PML-N, however, feel that thousands of traders and owners of small and mid-level businesses, currently living and operating from cities like Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Wazirabad, are just not willing to accept and digest the coercive-looking taxes that the budget for 2019-20 had introduced. That will deepen the hopeless mood in the market.

Coupled with an unbearable wave of inflation, loss of jobs and constant shrinking of disposable money for the salaried and middle classes, the incessant economic meltdown will certainly create perfect conditions for mass scale agitation in most urban centers of Pakistan. That may eventually hit the “same page” mood as well.

To cynics like me this sounds more like a wishful scenario. But you must think twice before committing to the possible scenarios while discussing politics in a country like Pakistan.