For another time, the PTI government has summoned another session of the national assembly of Pakistan Monday evening, without setting any substantive agenda for it. The obvious objective is to complete the minimum number of sittings, our constitution has fixed for this house in a parliamentary year.

The opposition, even if weak and gasping for survival in dynamic democracies, eagerly waits for such moments, when the government appears clueless about what to do with an elected parliament.

We are condemned to suffer a rudderless opposition, however. Its leader, Shahbaz Sharif has been staying put in London since November last year. Apparently, he is too busy dealing with serious health issues of his elder brother.

Not a person from the PML-N savours the command and control in his absence. This elitist outfit of the so-called “electables” continues to convey the feel of all-chiefs-no-Indian about it.

Little wonder, the national assembly, surfacing through the election of July 2018, took no time to look entirely irrelevant to all possible issues, agitating the minds of ordinary mortals of this country. Perhaps the brand of ‘parliamentary democracy’, Pakistan is experiencing these days, can easily appear ‘functioning and delivering’, even without suffering the trope of an elected parliament.

The laidback conduct of “our representatives” looked doubly unforgiveable if you consider the reality that with the advent of Monday morning, we began getting a flood of alarming news. The oil prices plummeted to a level, which triggered chaos in the global market. Panic selling also brought near collapse to our stock exchange. The value of US Dollar against the PK Rupee began crawling up, deepening the fears of doom and gloom.

As if the bad news from the economic front were not enough to startle many of us, things also turned politically frightening in our immediate neighbourhood, Afghanistan. Both Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah-Abdullah adamantly executed their intent of taking oath as “duly elected” President of that country the same day. Afghanistan now looks like “one country with two presidents.” And this absurdity, if allowed to continue, will certainly have serious implications for Pakistan. But “Our representatives” seemed completely oblivious to abovementioned developments.

With business-as-usual calm, they rushed through an insipid question hour. During the same, Ali Gauhar, a PML-N backbencher, wantonly attempted to score a point by referring to a spate of rumours, which had been in circulation regarding the political scene of Saudi Arabia for more than three days.

Taking advantage of Omar Ayub’s presence, some opposition members did try to find out from the minister of energy whether the falling prices of oil would also furnish some “relief” for average consumer in Pakistan. The minister was almost rude to remind them that the government had already reduced the price of this item. Then he went on and on to remind us that the finance minister of Nawaz Sharif, Ishaq Dar, had “squandered” a huge sum of accumulated $24 billion to keep the value of Pak Rupee “artificially high”.

Dar’s alleged manipulation of the fiscal realities, the minister kept insisting, eventually pushed Pakistan to near default. The PTI government was now busy in diligent course correction and people of Pakistan should stop expecting any relief for many months to come.

The minister of energy also had no hope-inducing story regarding the provision of gas. Previous governments, he thundered, did not encourage finding and developing any new fields. As a result Pakistan was fast depleting its available reservoirs. The PTI government is trying hard to inject more gas to the national grid by building new berths, specifically allocated for imported gas. That might not prove enough in the immediate future. We have to wait for at least ten more years to fully address the energy and fuel related demand.

After the question hour, Ahsan Iqbal of the PML-N also took the floor to press a point of order. This product of an Ivy League University is also a very experienced parliamentarian and a senior leader of his party.

After getting the floor, he quoted two articles of the Constitution, which define the responsibilities of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. I seriously imagined as if he was about to put the government in deep trouble by articulating a constitutional point.

He certainly disappointed me by referring to a news story, which had been reported by most of our media during the past weekend. The story had claimed that while talking to the activists of his party’s social media team in Lahore Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan told them with an upset heart that most of his ministers seldom go to their offices. They rather prefer to stay put at a high-end street of Islamabad, also famous for its pricey restaurants.

Seriously referring to the said story, Ahsan Iqbal also wanted to find out with a straight face whether the oft-spotted presence of weighty ministers of the Imran government in the elite market place merely reflected their love for good food or the said place was being frequented, primarily for wheeling and dealing.

Murad Saeed, the vigorous defender of the PTI government, turned furious with this question. Standing akimbo, he firmly denied the reported story. After calling it “fake news,” he also claimed with a hurt heart that during the past week more than a hundred such stories were reported and promoted in regular and social media.

His fury against the “fake news” sounded too Trumpian to my frightened heart. I genuinely felt relieved, when the house was adjourned for prayers. Even otherwise one would have resisted returning to the press gallery, after enduring more than two hours of mediocre and senseless babbling, dominating proceedings of the national assembly Monday evening.