Members of the government and the ruling PTI on Tuesday denounced PML-N senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for threatening to hit National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser with his shoe after the two exchanged harsh words.
The political temperature was at a fever pitch from the get-go as the assembly session resumed on Tuesday, when the government presented a resolution to debate the expulsion of the French ambassador — one of the key demands of the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) which staged several days of violent protests across the country last week.
After PTI lawmaker Amjid Ali Khan moved a resolution condemning the publication of blasphemous caricatures by French magazine Charlie Hebdo in September last year, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan moved a motion authorising the speaker to constitute a special committee to take up the resolution. Qaiser conducted a voice vote on the motion and it was quickly adopted.
Apparently enraged at what he perceived to be a move by the government to bulldoze the resolution through the National Assembly without listening to the opposition, former prime minister Abbasi left his seat and made his way to the speaker's dais.
"Are you not ashamed?" he asked the speaker, who asked Abbasi to tame his language. In response, Abbasi could be heard saying: "I will take off my shoe and hit [you]."
The heated exchange between the two continued for some time before Abbasi returned to his seat and expressed his reservations regarding the resolution.
Questioned by a reporter about his choice of words after the session, Abbasi doubled down on his remark, saying if he was not allowed to speak on the important issue of Namoos-i-Risalat "then I will hit with my shoe".
Soon after, the PTI on its official Twitter account shared a cropped clip of Abbasi's remark about tossing his shoe at the speaker. "Shame on PML-N and shame on ex-prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi," it wrote.
"Such derogatory remarks can never be used by any representative of [the] National Assembly. N- league is turning out to be a Mafia," the PTI tweeted from its Tehreek-e-Insaf account.
Federal education minister Shafqat Mehmood condemned Abbasi's "use of foul language and threats against the Speaker National Assembly".
He said this was "disgusting behaviour by a former PM. Obviously [he] was unfit for the office that accidentally fell in his lap."
Federal Planning Minister Asad Umar too strongly criticised Abbasi, saying it appeared that "the prime ministership given out of pity has made [him] forget basic manners".
"His insulting words are not causing harm to speaker sahib's reputation, though his own reputation has reduced to the ground," he tweeted.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Affairs (SAPM) Shahbaz Gill alleged that Abbasi "shows his true colours every other day".
"What language and upbringing [this] man has and he has remained the prime minister of Pakistan."
While 'Khaqan badtameez (ill-mannered) Abbasi' was one of the top trends on Twitter in Pakistan, thousands of users were also tweeting with the hashtag #WelldoneShahidKhaqanAbbasi.
A PML-N supporter termed Abbasi a "brave and fearless leader" for his remarks, while another said he "didn't do anything wrong".
The opposition, especially the PML-N, has in the past repeatedly expressed a lack of confidence in the current speaker, accusing him of being biased in favour of the government, and at times refused to attend meetings chaired by him.