President’s speech

While one really has to fumble for the right adjective to describe President Zardari’s speech to the joint session of the parliament on Monday, it was according to Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, a balanced one. His comment is as apt as the speech was to the point. It attracted the attention of the audience in the house and the countrymen specifically because he said something that was least expected, which was his straightforward call to punish those who had been subverting the constitution. After all his party stalwarts had earned the opprobrium of the public for keeping mum on the matter, particularly when it came to the trial of General Musharraf. Obviously, some observers might argue he now wants the new setup to bell the cat at its own risk. Yet if there is a sense of dêja vu about the statement, this is also not a bad omen for democracy, not in the least when normally our legislators fight shy of giving such vibes fearing a backlash from the military. That has been now said and with that a step has been taken towards supremacy of the parliament. It is worth noticing that the wording of the speech was precisely the essence of what President Zardari had wanted to say to the assembly; there was no pressure from any party so far as the writing of its contents were concerned. Now, a goal has been set for Parliament to achieve. It ought to prove it wields the necessary mettle; it has to wake up to the call for supremacy of the constitution. If it does that successfully, we have room for optimism. Plenty of challenges lie ahead. Not only it is the MPs own and their party’s integrity that is at stake but also the parliamentary system that needs to be run in such a way that a chance is denied to the offstage players harbouring anti-democratic thoughts. The seats they have won in the august house are for a certain term and so are the many ministries and offices they hold. But the legacy they will leave behind will be for long remembered. 

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