WHEN one sees the immense row which has been created by the postponement of the by-elections, due this month, by two months to August 18, even natural curiosity leads everyone to try and find out who exactly was behind this mess-up. Imagine the general surprise when the person most responsible turns out to be the PM's Adviser on Interior, Rehman Malik. This transpired because the NWFP Information Minister, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, said that his government had only requested the postponement of the poll, under pressure from Mr Malik. The Election Commission, when asked why it was postponing the by-polls, said that while all provinces and the Centre were holding budget sessions, the NWFP government had requested postponement because of the law and order situation there. It was then that Mian Iftikhar Hussain made his revelation which placed Mr Malik firmly at the centre of the controversy. It is surprising that Mr Malik made this decision without consulting other members of the coalition led by the PPP, for even PPP co-Chairman Asif Zardari condemned the postponement decision, and called the reasons not 'credible'. His demand to 'know the real reasons' pointed towards the Presidency, which was named by the PML-N as being behind the whole postponement exercise. Of the consequences of the postponement are that Shehbaz Sharif will not become Punjab Chief Minister for two months more, and Mr Zardari will not become Prime Minister for the same period. The former has been pointed out by the PML-N, but the latter not by the PPP, which has joined in the universal condemnation of Mr Malik. He appears to have been assuming too much for himself. For a start, he should not forget that, unlike other Cabinet members, he is not elected, and thus is only an Adviser to the PM, not a minister, and thus is in a naturally weaker position. Unlike the rest of the Cabinet, who remain in Parliament, Mr Malik will have to return to private life should he resign. After this latest example of his inability to handle the portfolio, he should depart silently.