ISLAMABAD - As the nature of his job demands neutrality, Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq rarely gets a chance to speak his heart out but on Monday he got it and he did not miss. “Old friends are quite vindictive,” ostensibly referring to his long-time pal Imran Khan.

The opportunity for Sadiq arose when the PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood asked Federal Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada to explain what FTA (Free Trade Agreement) meant.

When Pirzada avoided his question a couple of times, Shafqat Mehmood protested and the Speaker asked Pirzada to explain it.

Pirzada replied, “Shafqat Mehmood knows what FTA means. He is just teasing me. He is an old friend”.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq notably defeated PTI chief Imran Khan – a former close friend - for constituency NA-122 in Lahore in the 2013 polls. His electoral performance against Khan proved to be a crucial factor in his nomination for the post of the Speaker of the National Assembly.

The incumbent Speaker started his political career from Imran Khan’s PTI in the 1996. He left the party in 1998 over differences with Khan and joined the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

He was Khan’s junior at Aitchison College during the early 1960s. Sadiq admits that both he and Khan have been on good terms as old friends, even after their split in politics.

Imran had contested Sadiq’s victory claiming rigging in the 2013 polls. Finally the Judicial Commission declared the 2013 elections rigging free compelling Khan to accept the election results.

The press gallery and the lawmakers from all the parties were waiting for Imran Khan to return to the National Assembly after a long gap but everybody was disappointed when he did not turn up.

“He was in Haripur today. Can’t say if he attends the session tomorrow (Tuesday) but he will be back this week”, said a PTI lawmaker outside the parliament.

There was, however, a surprise for all when former PTI President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi arrived in the guest gallery. Some media reports suggested he might rejoin the ruling PML-N in the coming days. Inside the parliament, the Kasur child sex abuse issue remained the order of the day. Legislators from all the parties condemned it as a horrible episode.

The PTI walked out of the house when the Speaker refused to take up the scandal on calling attention notice or adjournment motion, saying it was a provincial subject and he could not break the rules. The PPP and MQM also staged a token walkout to protest the Speaker’s decision. All the members later returned. The Speaker had by then allowed a debate on the Kasur sex abuse scandal topic.

Former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali said that there was no need to politicise the Kasur child pornography incident. He asked all the parties to join hands to punish the culprits.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Nafisa Shah, Mian Abdul Manan, Tahir Iqbal, Sahibzada Tariqullah, Rashid Godil, Arif Alvi, Shireen Mazari, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and others spoke on the Kasur tragedy seeking exemplary punishment for the culprits and their accomplices.

At the dying moments, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour sparked a ‘humorous controversy’ saying, “Punjabis accuse Pakhtoon of such practice (homosexuality or illicit relations with teenage boys) but it is happening in Punjab too”.

The senior leader of ANP remarked that Punjabis’ criticism should not be laid to rest as this ghastly act had broken all the records.

Some members protested Bilour’s comments arguing that the Punjabis and Pakhtoons were both Pakistanis and no community can be blamed for a crime as a group.

At the end of the debate, the National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution vehemently condemning the child sex abuse scandal.

The resolution asked the Punjab government to probe the Kasur incident.

Earlier, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had asked MQM to “control” their chief Altaf Hussain as his controversial speeches were creating problems.

MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar insisted that the government must give guarantees to his party that the Karachi operation was not ‘MQM specific’.

The Interior Minister assured the MQM that the operation was against the terrorists and not designed to target the party.

The journalists also staged a token walkout from the press gallery demanding of the government to unfreeze the accounts of a private television channel so that the workers could get their salaries.