ISLAMABAD - There was quite some unusual activity at former prime minister Mir Zafrullah Khan Jamali’s chair on Monday as the National Assembly resumed its session after a two-day break.

Firstly Awami Muslim League (AML) Chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed walked across the hall to sit with the veteran Leaguer. They whispered for no less than 15 minutes and when Ahmed left, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) legislator Sheikh Rohail Asghar went to Jamali and kept gossiping for several minutes.

Federal Minister Ehsan Iqbal was the last one to share a chair beside Jamali and seemingly discussed some ‘important issues’ as both of them used their hands to support their arguments.

All this was happening in the thinly populated hall as the house took up the question hour, the call attention notices and so forth.

And at the dying moments, Jamali finally took the mike, criticising the government for trying to privatise profitable institutions. He referred to the media reports which suggested the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were being privatised. “If the government is not doing so, why didn’t they notice the media reports on these issues? We have made a habit of privatising national institutions,” he contended.

Looking at the empty chairs, Jamali, who was the prime minister from 2002 to 2004, said, “The house is by the grace of God empty and if they go at this speed, it will be ‘completely empty’ soon.”

He asked the chair to end the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insf (PTI) resignations’ issue as people had been waiting for months. “How much more time will you take to decide this. I think enough time has passed,” he added. The former premier maintained that there was no democracy in the country saying, “I will call it a worst hypocrisy”.

Jamali requested the chair to prorogue the session so that the lawmakers could go to their constituencies and look after the flood victims.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar came late but made an important statement. “The government has tried to convince the two parties (the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal(JUI-F) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to withdraw the motions against the PTI legislators’ membership. The JUI-F is set to withdraw it and we request the MQM to do the same but if they want to get a vote on it (possibly on Tuesday), the PML-N will vote against the motion”.

Dar said he would not be in the house due to official engagements on Tuesday so it was his duty to announce the government’s decision as the Speaker had deferred the voting by a week that ends on August 4.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) too supported the move to let the PTI members continue without the vote on the motions. “We would also like the two parties to withdraw the motions against the PTI. This issue should be buried,” Aijaz Jhakrani said.

AML leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had his own grievances with the chair as he smelled discrimination. “Thanks God I had not resigned or you would have accepted the resignation in two days,” he quipped.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq replied, “Not two days I would have done it in two seconds.” Later, Sadiq clarified that he would have also treated Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s resignation like the PTI lawmakers.

PML-N’s Major Tahir Iqbal (Retd) blasted the MQM for criticising the army and seeking help from India, NATO and the United Nations.

He claimed that the MQM had received favours from all the military-led governments but now the same army is being attacked by the MQM as they were exposing the extortion mafia in Karachi.

“The MQM grew on the shoulders of the military and even enjoyed powers during Pervez Musharraf’s rule for 10 years. They themselves called the army for help in Karachi and now they are blaming them of targeting the MQM. Seeking help from India and others amounts to treason,” he asserted.

Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan made everyone smile as he spoke about the Munda Dam replying to a question by a member. “About the Munda Dam only the Munda (young boy in Punjabi) minister can tell,” he joked citing the State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali.

The Nation’s Press Gallery about the Minister of State, Pir Mohammed Aminul Hasnat Shah and PML-lawmaker Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry laughter during the Azan (call for prayer) also came under discussion.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Mohammed Yousaf said the prayer break for Maghrib (sunset) should be announced immediately after the Azan, adding he reads the news about his deputy’s giggles during the call for prayers.

Deputy Speaker Murtza Javed Abbasi told the minister that he was not named in the report as the issue arose when Pir Mohammed Aminul Hasnat Shah and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry were speaking to each other.

If the MQM does not withdraw the motion seeking de-seating of the PTI lawmakers, the house could see voting on the move on Tuesday. With PML-N, PPP and other parties support, the PTI is hardly at any risk.

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“We know we don’t have enough votes but we will put this on record,” MQM lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi said outside the parliament.