LAHORE - Had it not been a clever move by Law Minister Raja Basharat to get the resolution passed before opening debate on the subject, a consensus resolution on Kashmir would not have been adopted at the end.

It might seem like putting the cart before the horse, but the law minister perhaps sensed beforehand that it would be hard to bring a consensus resolution if the legislators are allowed to debate the issue at the outset. 

The later part of the Assembly proceedings proved him right as the debate on Kashmir ended on a bad note with lawmakers throwing mud on each other’s leadership.

It was a sad reflection on the part of Punjab legislators to see them indulging in a futile debate after passing a unanimous resolution on Kashmir. They spent most of the time debating as to who was the dearest friend (Yaar) of Indian premier Narendra Modi in Pakistan: PM Imran Khan or the ex-PM Nawaz Sharif.

Provincial Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan better known for his badmouthing was the first one to spoil the cordial atmosphere. Surely it was not an occasion to recall the event of Indian Prime Minister’s presence in a wedding ceremony of Sharif family three years back. Chohan also brought in the issue of Indian spy Kulbushan alleging that Mian Nawaz Sharif kept mum over this issue during his tenure as prime minister.

Apparently, he took offence at Awais Leghari’s remarks over alleged failure of PTI’s government to pre-empt the Indian move to change Kashmir’s status. His flying into a rage at the slightest provocation was not justified in a situation when the House needed to show unity against the Indian aggression. Mr Leghari’s assertion that government had no point to celebrate its diplomatic victory over India after an informal UNSC meeting on Kashmir could not be dubbed as an unfair comment on the ground realities. The PML-N legislator also had a valid reason to say that PM Imran was wrong to predict that Kashmir issue would be resolved if Narendra Modi came to power for the second term.

Following Chohan’s speech, which the Opposition described as disgusting, there were no holds barred on either side. As the House witnessed complete disorder, legislators from the two sides were heard hurling taunts of “Modi ka yaar” (A friend of Modi), on each others’ leadership.

This slogan was originally conceived by the PTI to malign Mian Nawaz Sharif for his friendship with the Indian prime minister.

If Rana Mashhood of the PML-N accused PM Khan of “sell-out” on Kashmir, combined voices coming from the treasury benches called ex-PM Nawaz Sharif a “Modi ka yaar” who cultivated friendly relations with Indian PM at the cost of Kashmir issue. Uzma Kardar of the PTI took the centre stage for quite some time with her repeated calls that Rana Mashhood should take back his words. Though the chairman Mian Shafi Mohammad expunged the word “sell-out” from house proceedings, yet she kept on pressing her point for long.  

As if it was not enough, Tariq Masih Gill of the PML-N used the words, “selected” and “cocanned” for an elected prime minister. This prompted the Treasury to point out lack of quorum in the House. As the Opposition failed to gather the required numbers, the chair adjourned the sitting sine die. It was Opposition’s responsibility to keep the quorum since it had requisitioned the session to discuss Kashmir issue and the law and order situation.

A House debate meant to discuss the most burning issue of Kashmir also turned into a fierce competition among the loyalists (on both sides) to prove themselves more loyal than the King himself. This led to exchange of hot words between Uzma Kardar and Rana Mashhood as the two were not ready to listen a word against their respective leaders.  

Also, much like the situation in the National Assembly a week back, the original resolution moved by the law minister on Kashmir had no mention of Article 370. It was, however, amended later on to include these words on the insistence of the Opposition.