LEAVING aside the beneficiaries of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, one could hardly find a fair-minded person across the length and breadth of the country, or for that matter outside of it, who favoured this clearly unconstitutional and iniquitous piece of legislation. But when the Supreme Court decreed that it be put through Parliament, it posed a veritable dilemma to the PPP-led coalition government, which contains a large number of supporters and political figures who are holding the reins of powers, thanks to this very ordinance. The NRO, concluded between PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto and President General Musharraf, stipulated that cases registered against public office holders between January 1, 1986, and October 12, 1999, could be closed by the courts, if they had been motivated by political vendetta. Thus, the pervasive criticism that particularly highlighted its discriminatory nature, the ground on which legal experts believed it would be declared unconstitutional if challenged in the Supreme Court after its passage by Parliament. However, by carrying out amendments in its clauses at the level of the relevant standing committee of the National Assembly, the government has tried to remove the apprehension that it might be struck down. (The committee approved the revised version on Friday by a majority vote, with the PML-N boycotting it in the final stages, the PML-Q opposing it and MQM abstaining from voting.) In the revised draft, which would be presented before the National Assembly for approval, the restriction on the timeframe has been lifted and its scope has been extended to cover even ordinary citizens. Thus an attempt has been made to neutralise the criticism from opposition parties and fellow parliamentarians, who had earlier been left out of its purview and could have been expected to create hurdles to its passage. Yet even the revised text merits outright condemnation since it legitimises corruption and crime. The question now is: would the PML-N stick to its stand of firmly opposing the ordinance? Although during the debate in the standing committee, PML-N members bitterly opposed it, Mian Nawaz Sharifs reaction has been rather muted. He called the approval unfortunate; said it would benefit only a few particular individuals (which is no longer the case); and felt it should not be put before Parliament. However, in keeping with his style, Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali (PML-N) was quite belligerent while talking to journalists. If the government wants to turn the National Assembly into a battlefield on the issue of NRO, we are ready for it, he hurled the challenge. The coming days will tell whether the second largest party in the NA, will have second thoughts or persist in its stand. If PML-N wavers in its resolve, the PML-Q will probably stand alone in opposition. The MQM would fall in line with the government.