The pandemonium that reigned supreme inside the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday does not seem to have subsided. No chairs are being manhandled and no papers thrown, but the conflict that was sparked inside that budget session is escalating in other ways. Speaking outside the premises Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz on Friday warned that the PML-N would boycott the assembly unless six suspended MPAs – who were banned from the current session by the Speaker after the ruckus – were permitted to participate in sessions. MPAs from the party were arrayed outside the assembly, shouting defiance and demonstrating their resolve.

This is certainly not how a budget session – or any parliamentary session for that matter – is supposed to look like. The most populous province’s budget should be settled through an educated and inclusive debate, not muddled through amidst party based confrontation.

And while Hamza Shahbaz might feel that he is fighting to restore the “honour” of his party members, and stands justified in threatening a boycott he must remember that the ban did not materialize without reason. The Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PM-N) dominated opposition took it upon themselves to disrupt the session, and they were the ones who initiated the scuffle and clashed with the security officials of the assembly. Even if he claims that the picture of the ransacked PA floor that was circulated in the media is misleading and “fake”, there is no denying that the scuffle did take place and that his party was involved. One fails to understand what honour the Leader of the Opposition is defending.

Even now the onus of escalating the situation rests with the PML-N. Yes, a budget session with an understrength opposition will be far from ideal, but a boycott exacerbates the problem to the highest degree and sets up another confrontation. It would be wise for the PML-N to remember their own words when they were in government and facing protests; recording your protest is a right, stymying the functioning of the government is not.

The PML-N needs to understand the difference between a strong protest and a fistfight, between the streets and the floor of the parliament. It must learn the norms that are acceptable and unacceptable in either situation – even if it has to do so the hard way.

A ban on those MPAs that played a leading role in the ruckus, for the remainder of the session, is proportionate – and given the lack of repentance shown by the party - necessary.