Ansar Abbasi, a celebrity investigative journalist, surely stirred the sensational frenzy by breaking a news story Monday morning. It revealed the statement, on oath, by a retired Chief Judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, blaming a former Chief Justice of Pakistan for allegedly committing serious acts of misconduct in his presence, way back in July 2018.

The frenzy this story had stirred proved short-lived, however; Islamabad High Court instantly took notice of it. The matter was thus turned sub-judice for an old school journalist like me and I won’t dare to comment on the same in this column.

In comparison to ordinary journalists, our parliamentarians savor a formidable set of privileges and some opposition representatives took full advantage of it for rubbing in the said story in both the houses of Parliament, at the outset of their reassembling Monday evening.

Azam Nazir Tarrar of Pakistan Muslim League, who also is a very experienced lawyer, took the lead at the outset of the Senate sitting. After getting the floor, he projected the story told by Ansar Abbasi as a matter of utmost public concern. Then he went on building a case to demand that a specially constituted parliamentary commission should probe into the matter.

Khawaja Asif conducted the similar drumming in the National Assembly. But the dominant spin of his speech wanted to promote the feeling that Nawaz Sharif’s sacking from the prime minister’s office in 2017 was managed through a deep and sinister conspiracy, executed by employing all possible tools and tactics of judicial overreach.

Asad Qaisar, the National Assembly Speaker, kept reminding the PML-N leader that the Islamabad High Court had already taken notice of the said story and matters under judicial consideration must not be discussed in the house.

The Senate Chairman, on the contrary, displayed a crafty indifference and allowed ample time to Ejaz Chaudhry and Dr Wasim Shahzad from the treasury benches to project Nawaz Sharif and his daughter as “compulsive liars and hardened criminals duly sentenced” for their alleged acts of commission and omission.

In the National Assembly, two favorite and loyal ministers of the Imran government –Murad Saeed and Asad Umar- felt provoked to deliver forceful retaliatory speeches to mock the “compulsively corrupt history” of Nawaz Sharif and his immediate family. Often sounding like the broken record, they also conveyed a firm message that even after spending three years in power, Imran Khan and his hardcore loyalists were yet not willing to forget and forgive Nawaz Sharif and his daughter.

Their aggressive stance also affirmed a widespread rumor, suggesting that the government remained adamant to summon a joint sitting of both the houses of parliament, probably on coming Wednesday, to bulldoze a plethora of laws and was just not willing to take the opposition on board for the smooth passage of these laws.

The government’s obsessive-looking desire of summoning the joint parliamentary sitting looks odd to most parliamentary reporters. The majority of them strongly feel that the reality or the fiction of “the same page,” which ostensibly helped the government to enjoy absolute command and control for the past three years, sustains itself no more. Since October 6, 2021, differences within the visible and invisible poles of the power dynamics were increasingly coming into the open.

So far, the Imran government could rule comfortably, in spite of having a razor-thin majority in Parliament, primarily due to the support furnished by the smaller political parties and groups, often perceived as acting on winks and nods from praetorian quarters of the state. They have now started expressing the accumulated grievances, publicly.

Even Monday evening, Senator Kamil Ali Agha, an old loyalist of politically formidable Chaudhrys of Gujrat, was too loud to agitate with visible anger in the Senate. He kept asking why his name was removed from a parliamentary committee, which recommends members for the Election Commission. The cool cat in Sanjrani struggled hard to assuage him with submissive charms.  

As if hard-to-get tantrums thrown by the so-called allies were not enough, credible sources have begun claiming in whispers that around 25-plus members from within the ruling party itself, the PTI, were also not feeling happy for being taken for granted. They are fluttering to assert their autonomy and worth by staying away from the joint parliamentary sitting, the government seems determined to summon in visible haste.

The government, for sure, does not need the 2/3rd majority to get the laws of its preferences rubberstamped by the joint parliamentary sitting. It simply needs to prove the majority from members present during the intended joint sitting.

If you care about doing the simple math, though, the government only holds the edge of two votes if all members of both the houses of parliament attended the joint sitting. The combined numbers of all the opposition parties can easily block the passage of proposed laws, if around ten to fifteen members from the ruling alliance decided to stay away from the joint sitting.

The simple logic of visible numbers should have forced the government to summon the joint parliamentary sitting, only after ensuring the presence of parliamentarians, supporting it so far since August 2021, in full strength. But the Imran government had also demolished the reality of visible numbers, around a year ago.

In the Senate, having 100 members, 64 members had collectively moved a no confidence motion against its Chairman, Sadiq Sanjrani. But thanks to the miracle, associated with secret balloting, Sanjrani survived in the end. Feeling utterly shocked by the defeat, some vocal voices from the opposition named and blamed some powerful quarters of the deep state for their humiliation.

The government can surely repeat history, if the alleged manipulative pull were still available to it. In its absence, however, the possible rejection of the proposed laws by the intended joint parliamentary sitting would clearly convey the message that the Imran government had lost the majority in Parliament and thus the legitimacy to rule.

But, Prime Minister Imran Khan continues to savor the reputation of an adventurer, never feeling shy of going for the kill even when playing cricket, often described as a game mostly relying on chance.

His risk-taking streak also seemed working for him, when he switched to full time politics. One should, therefore, think twice before predicting the final outcome of holding the joint parliamentary sitting, apparently without doing the diligent homework.