ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan missed a rare opportunity on Monday to have a face-off with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the National Assembly. What could be called a smartly crafted political gimmick opposition leader Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah seemed to have salvaged whatever credibility was left with the prime minister. Mr Khan simply failed to comprehend what exactly happened in those few decisive minutes after a 37-minute long speech of the prime minister. Before going inside the Parliament House, Mr Khan told journalists that he had long been waiting for the day when he would speak and “Mian Sahab” would listen on the floor of the National Assembly. He looked excited and upbeat. It had already been decided that after the prime minister’s speech, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq would give floor to the opposition leader. And after the opposition leader’s speech, Mr Khan would get the floor to build his case against the prime minister for the first time in the lower house of the Parliament. The prime minister took full advantage of the opportunity and narrated business history of his family. Whether the facts he narrated were right or wrong, he spoke with confidence and a sense of superiority. None of the PTI members interrupted his speech. He finished the speech, received applauds from the treasury members and looked at the opposition like a conqueror. Speaker Ayaz Sadiq requested Khurshid Shah to speak. While many were expecting filibuster-like response from Mr Shah, he instead delivered the shortest speech of his parliamentary career. “Since prime minister didn’t respond to any of our seven questions, I don’t think I should waste time of the House,” he said while announcing walkout from the proceedings. Speaker Ayaz Sadiq still enquired from Imran Khan if he wanted to deliver his speech. Mr Khan refused and meekly followed the opposition leader. Sources told Daily Times that it had been decided between the NA speaker and the opposition that after the speeches of Mr Shah and Mr Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar would respond on behalf of the prime minister. Mr Khan was all set to clarify his position on offshore company he owned in 1983. He had also prepared one of the best speeches of his parliamentary career. However, the sudden move by Mr Shah caught him off-guard leaving him with no option but to follow the rest of the opposition parties. What Mr Khan did not realise, MNA Jamshed Dasti explained outside the Parliament while talking to a few journalists. He claimed that Mr Khan was highjacked by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). He blamed the “incompetent” advisers of Mr Khan who could not understand PPP’s move and let their leader fall in the trap only to collect embarrassment. Sources said that a walk out from the National Assembly was staged under a well-planned strategy. However, opposition leader Khurshid Shah claimed that he had to boycott the proceedings because the PTI leadership wanted him to do so. The members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamaat-e-Islami were flabbergasted after the announcement of a walkout by the opposition leader. Sources having access to important drawing rooms and quarters in Islamabad told Daily Times the adverse situation was likely to affect the Nawaz government before and after the upcoming budget. The two big international supporters of the prime minister are fast losing their interest in the PML-N government owing to several unfulfilled commitments. The reason why they tolerated General Musharraf for so many years was that he could and did deliver without political and bureaucratic hurdles. The international powers had developed a certain level of comfort dealing with the decision-maker instead of waiting for the nods of different power-centres in Pakistan. They now want a similar dispensation in order to get strategic decisions implemented according to their whims. Insiders say the establishment is likely to take maximum advantage of the erratic political attitude of Mr Khan. However, he may not be the first choice in case the prime minister is prematurely sent home. With his recent anti-India rhetoric, the popularity graph of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has spiked among certain quarters. While he is not convenient replacement at the moment, yet his recent popularity may help ‘someone’ else to attain the dream office. Rumours are rife in the federal capital that an old trusted aide of Benazir Bhutto might be entrusted a technocratic set-up, if it is installed at all. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed may not be taken seriously on this, but he confidently claims that name of a caretaker prime minister has been finalised. He insists on formation of a forward bloc in the ruling PML-N.