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Notes from the press gallery

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ISLAMABAD: Our two main opposition parties, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP), are filled with people returning to the National Assembly since the early 1990s. in 2018, they took turns

in government and in opposition as well.

Compared to them, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) led by Imran Khan was primarily conceived as a novice and outsider to political games. After the 2018 election, it surely became the biggest party. But he desperately needs the support of a small group of “small parties” to form the government. After being elected “independent” to the National Assembly, a large number of them also joined the ruling party to solidify its numbers. Yet the ruling coalition remains deprived of a formidable majority.

Its seemingly vulnerable numbers often make parliamentary journalists and political commentators imagine that thanks to an impressive crowd of “very experienced members”, the opposition has every capacity to dominate parliamentary debates. Rather, the government should think twice before “implementing its agenda” and forget to get away with unilateral decisions. It is surely

it’s time to smell the coffee.

For another time on Monday, PTI parliamentary affairs officials have instead proven, clearly, that they continue to enjoy absolute command and control over parliamentary debates. The opposition has virtually no storylines to follow and has completely lost the desire to act as spoilers, even if obediently and half-heartedly.

The government had convened the National Assembly to meet on Monday, simply to present the one-point agenda: shifting the burden of passing two laws to a joint parliamentary session. He strongly believes that Pakistan desperately needs to pass these laws to get off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) gray list. And he certainly achieved his goal without too much time, rather too easily.

These laws had literally been bulldozed in the National Assembly. But when they were sent to the Senate, the opposition, strong in numbers, apparently “rejected” them with a very strong vote. The opposition continued to claim the opposite.

With the zeal of breathtaking scholars, some of its leaders like Raza Rabbani instead continued to explain to us that they had not “rejected” the FATA laws per se. Indeed, they had opposed “the motion”, which sought authorization to table the FATA laws approved by the Assembly for immediate consideration and approval. Since the said laws were not “defeated”, if you strictly follow the rules, they must be submitted to the Senate again. It was not necessary to send them to a joint parliamentary session.

But hardly a person from the opposition benches in the National Assembly bothered to block the sending of these laws to a joint parliamentary session on Monday evening, on the grounds that their colleagues in the Senate had been drumming for so many days. Syed Navid Qamar of the PPP was certainly too late to express “reservations”, but almost casually.

The opposition looked embarrassingly helpless for one simple reason: By brilliantly using their story-building skills, the PTI had relentlessly promoted the story that the opposition had acted “selfish”, while also taking advantage of it. his numerical advantage in the Senate. In return for their cooperation in the swift and smooth passage of FATA-related laws, “the slaves of Asif Ali Zardari and the Sharif” sought to “relieve” their “masters”, who currently face serious charges of corruption.

PTI spin-doctors also projected the feeling that Pakistan had been graylisted by the FATF, not just for “terrorist financing” incidents. “Money laundering” was also a major reason, and both Asif Ali Zardari and the Sharif had engaged in it recklessly.

They kept remembering that Imran Khan came to the Prime Minister’s office with the promise to cleanse our policy of “looters and looters”. He is just not willing to forget and forgive. It is up to the opposition to decide whether they really want to see Pakistan off the FATF gray list, by fully extending their unconditional support for the swift and smooth passage of laws to combat “money laundering.” “.

The opposition has failed miserably to turn a counter-narrative. He couldn’t even explain to the majority of Pakistanis why we were graylisted by the FATF to begin with. The question of whether the laws proposed by the government had been drafted to satisfy only the FATF also remained unanswered. They were not laden with definitions, clauses and loopholes, which gave the government the power to correct its criticisms with vengeance. Without a forceful scenario, the main opposition parties continued to fight a losing battle.

If you choose the logic of numbers only, the Imran government should rather be reluctant to table FATF related laws before a joint parliamentary session. The combined strength of all opposition parties will apparently relish a slight six-vote advantage. But he feels no need to seriously consider said benefit.

The plethora of cases, which the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) continues to pursue against many leaders of opposition parties, has literally sapped the morale of their fellow parliamentarians. Rather, they feel paralyzed with fear of NAB. Even the “brave guys” don’t feel motivated to “derail the system” with hawkish postures. This gives the Imran government ample time and space to get by with whatever it is planning in the name of “good governance”.

After helplessly helping the government to extract what it had planned for Monday’s sitting of the National Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the opposition and chairman of the PML-N, took the floor to deliver a long and furious speech. At the same time, he wanted to push the government into a tight and defensive corner while emotionally referring to the recent rape of a lady, stranded at the Lahore-Sialkot highway.

Crossing the party divide, said incident had certainly shocked the vast majority of our people. Yet the question remains that if “our representatives” felt truly outraged about it, they should have forced the speaker to postpone the rest of the agenda to discuss the brutal incident with a focused mind and heart. human at the start of Monday’s sitting of the National Assembly. Assembly.

In any event, such incidents are usually the subject of “adjournment motions”. “Legislative affairs” always follow them. But we suffer from a unique form of “democracy” these days and parliamentary business is quickly adjusting to its compulsions, largely due to strong opposition in numbers but qualitatively very low.

No wonder, speeches from both sides of the house regarding the Lahore-Sialkot highway tragedy were quick to mark a turning point. “Our representatives” felt little shame while boldly engaging in simply humiliating and blaming “the other”. Their speeches only deserve contemptuous contempt.

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