ISLAMABAD -  A roaring opposition, an indifferent house and a yawning prime minister haunted Finance Minister Ishaq Dar as he presented the national budget on Friday.

Even before he stood up to speak, Dar was interrupted by Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah who wanted to take the mic first citing the use of force against the protesting farmers outside the parliament.

After some arguments and counter-arguments, Dar told the chair that he had consulted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and Khurshid Shah should be allowed to speak even though it was against the traditions.

Shah took the opportunity to bash the government for using force against the protesting farmers. He said that there was no difference between a democratic government and the dictatorship if the people were not allowed to raise voice for their rights.

In the background, the black-ribbon-supporting opposition lawmakers from the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement chanted slogans of ‘shame…shame.’

Shah reminded the government that the farmers were only demanding relief when the police resorted to sticks. “Is this the way the people will be treated. The poor segments do protests during the budget season demanding relief and they should not get sticks in response,” he contended.

Soon Shah ended his speech, the opposition turned out of control. They raised ‘go, Nawaz, go’ slogans and ridiculed Dar as ‘liar’ forcing the NA Speaker to turn the volume of the amplifiers at high mode for the beleaguered minister.

When this did not work, the opposition left their seats and started tearing the budget documents throwing them into the air. Some, led by Jamshed Dasti, sat in front of the prime minister and threw the torn pieces of the budget document on the floor.

A few opposition lawmakers blew whistles to interrupt the budget speech. A team of ministers went here and there to stop the onslaught but to no avail.

Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq ultimately succeeded in convincing the opposition to stage the promised walkout to control the noisy scenes.

They opposition lawmakers slowly left the hall, chanting slogans and playing with the budget documents. Dar had a sigh of relief and started speaking more confidently. He tried to go through the budget speech as quickly as possible but the rivals were back in around 15 minutes ending their symbolic walkout. However, from there on, the opposition remained even more silent than the treasury benches, giving space to the finance minister.

Concurrently, there was a race between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif to sit close to the PM.

The two ministers came almost together and since Khawaja Asif was a step behind, he waited for Nisar to take a seat – hoping against hope that the interior minister will choose the third seat. But Nisar settled on the second. Since the two ministers are not on talking terms, Khawaja Asif was content in sitting a little far away - on the front row.

Luckily for Khawaja Asif, the interior minister left for a few minutes – giving the defence minister a chance for an audience with the PM, who himself rarely graces the assembly.

They chatted for a few minutes and when Asif sensed, the interior minister was returning, he quietly walked away. Nisar again sat with the premier before finally leaving. This time, Asif did not opt to return to the PM’s side.

The budget session also provided a chance to the attention-starved treasury members to shake hands with the prime minister and in the process, handing over their ‘requests’ in the forms of letters to him. The PM read the letters carefully – as he had all the time in the world – and seemingly assured consideration.

The treasury members showed the least interest in the proceedings and were seen gossiping in small groups. They did thump the desks every now and then to record their presence.

A quiet Riaz Hussain Pirzada, who had resigned a few weeks earlier as a minister, sat among others in the second row. The PM is yet to accept his resignation. He left halfway through the budget speech.

When the lawmakers gave a break to the PM after a series of visits to his seat, Sharif was visibly exhausted. He yawned once and used a letter in his hand to ‘massage’ his face. Within 10 minutes, he yawned again. By this time, Dar had read most of the pages of his speech.

MQM’s Farooq Sattar also gave a copy of his party’s shadow budget to PM Sharif. Towards the close, Awami National Party chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed entered the hall and left before the end of the budget speech.

And during the last minutes, someone from the opposition asked Dar to say a few words about the ‘Panama leaks’ too. When the finance minister closed his speech, State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali and Jamshed Dasti were already engaged in an altercation. The two left the hall cursing and threatening to teach each other a lesson.