I didn’t expect the Senate to resume meeting in business-as-usual manner Monday afternoon. Taking “live calls” from ordinary citizens a day earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had indeed expressed some thoughts, startling many in the country. And they were certain to resonate in the upper house of our Parliament.   

 No one was really surprised with his fire and fury against the media; he kept accusing them of spreading the feeling of doom and gloom. His self-righteous contempt for Shehbaz Sharif, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, was also not so astonishing. 

Far more alarming remained the tone and tenor he had adopted to convey the message that he would turn more dangerous/lethal/deadly (make your pick to select the English translation of an expression of Urdu, Khattarnaak), if removed without being allowed to complete the five-year term as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. That made many to seriously wonder, “Who really was so keen to remove him?”

If you go by the appearances, our opposition parties are yet not able to even discover a viable strategy for removing him, forget effectively executing the same. In spite of being present in both houses of our parliament with significant numbers, they have rather been consistently failing to block bulldozing of a plethora of laws, mostly in single sittings of the national assembly. 

 

Less than two weeks ago, the government had established its absolute control, for another time, by getting the mini-budget passed that would extract an additional amount of Rs377 billion by withdrawing tax exemptions for almost each item of everyday use.

 

If the opposition fails to check a government by deploying parliamentary tools and weapons, people in many countries of the world decide to take to the streets on their own. They try to get rid of an unpopular government through mass agitation. We don’t see that kind of a movement, even simmering in Pakistan. 

 

Yet in spite of relishing a docile parliament and general calm in the country, Imran Khan clearly sounded as if being besieged by “hostile forces”. Since he had not described these forces during 90-minute interaction with live callers, people were justified in rushing to presume that his message was primarily designed for some powerful quarters of our deep state, often perceived as making or breaking a government in Pakistan.

 

At the outset of Monday’s sitting of the Senate, Ms. Sherry Rehman of Pakistan Peoples Party forcefully reacted to Imran Khan’s remarks. With sadistic pleasure, she tried to put the PM’s remarks in the context of “selector/selected” dynamic.

 

But she was indeed furious in pressing the point that being the leader of an elected house, the National Assembly of Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan had no right to deride the opposition leader of the same house. Rejecting the possibility of approaching the opposition leader of a directly elected house for building consensus on some issues of utmost national and public importance, she kept insisting, Imran Khan had rather attempted to demean the whole parliament and he must be duly punished for doing this through posting and pressing of a privilege motion against him. 

 

Dr Wasim Shahzad, the Leader of the House, hates to respond with point-versus-point logic. He rather felt amused over the heartburning of Ms Sherry Rehman and kept insisting that through his remarks Sunday, the prime minister had rather shown “mirror to the opposition,” which to him was not only corrupt but hopelessly incompetent as well. 

 

The opposition walked out in anger. But the Senate Chairman wanted them back in the house to discuss some recent incidences, ominously suggesting that the menace of terrorism was flapping to strike back in Pakistan. Cutting across the party divide, most senators had forced him to allot ample time for discussing terrorism-related issues late last week and he had allotted early hours of Monday’s sitting to discuss them. The minister of interior also came specially to deliver the winding up speech. 

 

Senator after senator kept delivering rhetorical speeches on the issue of terrorism. But they remained essentially focused to prescribe the genesis of it. Raza Rabbani took the lead here and went back to Zia’s years, when a military dictator had decided to help liberating Afghanistan from the Soviet occupation with hyperactive aid and assistance of CIA and then he switched to the blowback of the “War on terror,” which another military dictator, General Musharraf, had preferred to wage, again for the pleasure of Americans.

 

Senator Raza Rabbani certainly pressed valid points while dissecting history. But it didn’t leave any time and energy for him to focus on here-and-now questions. Rabbani’s speech also provoked some senators of “Islamist parties” to angrily question why the terrorism was only associated with religious elements by the “left/liberals” of Pakistan.  

 

Anwar-ul-Haq of Balochistan Awami Party also struggled hard to promote the feeling that ‘liberal types’ mostly act blind to acts of terrorism, separatist extremists continue committing in Balochistan. Like the rest of general debates in our Parliament, the discussion on highly serious issue of terrorism soon turned into the blame passing exercise in trivial point scoring. 

 

Meanwhile, the news came that Shahzad Akbar Mirza had resigned as the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister. Since 2018, this former prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) behaved as if zealously working overtime to locate the allegedly ill-gotten millions of Nawaz Sharif and the rest of his family. 

 

Shehbaz Sharif, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, also remained his favourite target. And by holding press conferences, almost every other day, Shahzad Akbar Mirza had been telling us that his diligent chase finally retrieved a huge pile of bank transactions, clearly showing that Shehbaz Sharif ceaselessly committed many grave acts of money laundering. 

He almost acted certain in claiming that thanks to the huge pile of evidence collected by him the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif would soon go to jail. And in the end might not be able to retain his seat in the National Assembly after “inevitable-looking sentencing.” Shehbaz Sharif is still there, but Shahzad Akbar Mirza had put in his resignation papers. Only he can explain, why?