LAHORE There was nothing new in the presidents speech, which was his fourth to a joint session of parliament. However, the event showed that the presidents opponents are willing to forget the bitterness of the past and join hands against the ruling PPP. And this indicates a change in the political situation in the times ahead. Smooth sailing appears to be a thing of the past. While the negative reaction of most of other parties was predictable and understandable, the one shown by Maulana Fazlur Rehman was rather unexpected. He has always been on the side of the PPP when he had to choose between this party and the PML-N. But this time, he broke ranks with the PPP and protested as did other parties, including the PML-N. All efforts made by the PPP leaders to take him along have failed. Only a few weeks ago, he developed serious differences with the prime minister when he sacked both Javed Sawti (a JUI-F man) and Hamid Saeed Kazmi (a PPP man) as federal ministers because of the Hajj scam. The Maulana thought that the removal of Mr Kazmi was justified because of corruption charge against him, but action taken against the JUI-F minister was uncalled for. He had demanded the removal of the prime minister, but shown full support for President Zardari. But only a few weeks down the line, he appears to have changed his thinking about the president as well. A very senior PML-Q leader has been reported as saying that the present government will not last beyond the budget session. And it is now an open secret that Maulana Fazlur Rehman is a very serious candidate for the office of the prime minister. Some sources say that in case an-house change could not be brought about, pressure would be mounted for fresh elections. The emerging situation should be a matter of serious concern for the president. The MNAs and the Senators, together with the MPAs, form the electoral college of the president. And since about half of the legislators from both houses were away from the session during the presidents address, the development should ring alarm bells for both the president and the prime minister. This shows the president has lost support of a large number of his voters, and that the prime minister also faces a threat to his rule. As for the content of the presidents speech, it appeared a compilation of his previous statements. His assertion that the assassins of Benazir Bhutto will not go scot-free has been repeated a million times in the past. If at all it means something, congratulations to Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Assefa that their father is still determined to get the killers of their great mother punished. A man who could not do anything on this front despite enjoying all powers even more than three years after the tragedy, his efficiency for the solution of other peoples problems may be well imagined. His government had left the people to the mercy of circumstances. His invitation to political parties for a dialogue is not new. It is almost like talking of a round table conference (RTC) to discuss national issues, an idea he had floated in the recent past but failed to have any takers. Many political parties are of the view that in the presence of a parliament, where a large number of parties are represented, there is no need for an RTC. If the idea failed to click earlier, it is unlikely to find support now. The president failed to address all serious problems facing the people. He did not say if the government is taking any steps that would bring the prices down, control the lawlessness, overcome unemployment, end power and gas load shedding. He also did not say anything about the Raymond Davis issue and the verdicts of the courts which remain un-implemented. In such a situation who would be interested in knowing whether the countrys foreign exchange reserves have shot up to $17 billion or 17 trillion. Similarly, what difference will the foreign remittances make which, according to the president, have gone up to $11 billion. The blessings of the Reformed General Sales Tax or other 'earth-shaking measures taken by the government in various sectors are totally meaningless unless they bring about a positive change in the lives of the downtrodden. These statistics and claims that the government will fight militants to the finish mean nothing for the common man. People are already convinced that the rulers will fight the foreign-imposed war on terror to the last Pakistani. Such reiterations cannot fill the empty stomachs.