THE Sindh High Court quashed the remaining two NAB cases against PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday, thus clearing the way for him to contest the by-elections. The timing is ominous. The court decision comes on the heels of the postponement of the by-elections for two months as notified by the Election Commission on Tuesday. As the announcement drew widespread criticism from across the political divide, NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain made a startling disclosure that Federal Interior Adviser Rehman Malik had approached Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti and told him that since the other three provinces had agreed to postpone the polls, the Frontier should also follow suit. Mr Zardari meanwhile demanded to know the real motive behind the Commission's decision, saying the reason cited by it did not appear to be credible. And he was right when he said that if the law and order situation was bad in a particular locality there was hardly any justification for putting off the by-elections throughout the country. But one wonders how the Interior Adviser could alone take such a major decision that can have far-reaching implications for the national politics. It can further aggravate friction between the two major partners of the ruling coalition who are already facing problems in resolving their differences over other important issues, including the reinstatement of the deposed judges. The abrupt decision to postpone the by-elections has given rise to the perception that the whole move was aimed at preventing PML-N President Mian Shahbaz Sharif from becoming the Punjab Chief Minister. If so, Mr Malik can be suspected to have links with the Presidency. The Establishment is not only trying to drive a wedge between the two major coalition partners but also conspiring to contrive a new coalition between the PPP and the PML-Q. A series of meetings General Musharraf recently held with the leadership of the former ruling coalition smacks of foul play. The Presidency has meanwhile denied any connection with the decision regarding the postponement of the by-elections till August 18 but there would be few takers for its view that the Election Commission might have done so just because of the security reasons. The PPP Co-Chairman has rightly rejected the Commission's plea. But he must do more. If Mr Malik had issued such instructions to the provincial governments without the consent of the Prime Minister and the party leadership then Mr Zardari should ask for his scalp, for the crime he has committed is too serious to be ignored.