On Thursday, President Dr Arif Alvi finally gave his address to the joint session of the Parliament. This address was originally scheduled to take place on August 14, but it was postponed due to political tensions and uncertainty. Things have not improved much since then and despite the President’s best efforts to deliver a non-partisan speech, the proceedings of the joint session made it clear that the situation has deteriorated beyond a point of no return.

During his address, Dr Alvi stressed on the need to end the growing polarisation in the country and to decide on an election date by coming together. He questioned how it was possible for the country to stabilise if every election was challenged and added that there is a need for coming together and holding dialogue. However, his call for unity was made to a nearly empty hall as out of 422 lawmakers, only a few more than a dozen were present during the address.

Some PTI defectors were in attendance along with lawmakers from the Balochistan Awami Party, while those from the PML-N, PPP, and JUI-F boycotted the President’s address without any warning. On the other hand, members of the PTI boycotted the session because they refused to recognise the legitimacy of this assembly. This state of affairs perhaps sums up the prospects of any kind of reconciliation or dialogue at this point in time.

Following this president’s address, Foreign Minister and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took to Twitter and demanded Alvi’s impeachment, arguing that he was complicit in unconstitutional efforts to sabotage the vote of no confidence, violating the Constitution and his oath in order to undermine transfer of power. These are perhaps performative statements at this time because with this government’s term nearing an end, it might not be a realistic endeavour to pursue with the current parliament.