It is clear that the now-removed NAB Chairman Deedar Hussain was appointed by the President without meeting the constitutional requirement of consultation with the leader of the opposition. The extreme reaction of the President's PPP to the Supreme Court's decision declaring the appointment as null and void, and the nefarious narrative being spun around the decision, is a cause of grave concern for those hoping for the strengthening of democracy in the country. It seems to be the last thing on the President's mind. There are many problems with the way the ruling party has chosen to react to the Supreme Court's order. The inflammatory statements issued by its Sindh leadership and the shutter-down strike announced by its government in the province was projected by the PPP as a spontaneous reaction that represented the sentiments of its voters in Sindh and had nothing to do with its top leadership. This is not the first time that the PPP under Zardari has tried to disown the statements and actions of responsible officials of the party. In fact, this has become more or less a standard operating procedure when it comes to the dubious political adventures of the ruling party. Regardless of this hypocritical pretence, it is obvious that such 'spontaneous reactions' and 'personal opinions' are well-orchestrated parts of the shameful anti-democratic strategy being pursued by the President and the subjugated PPP he commands and controls. This kind of deception might suit dictators, but only serves to weaken the spirit of democracy. A democratic party and government should be able to articulate its policies clearly and own up to its actions. But then the policies being pursued by the President are too undemocratic to be stated clearly, and hence the need for such duplicitous tactics. In the present case, for instance, the strike, violence and statements fit in perfectly with the PPP agenda of threatening and taming the independent judiciary and creating an impression that the honourable judges were out to victimise the party. The largest political party that claims to be a symbol of the Pakistani federation, has also repeatedly played upon the emotions of its Sindhi voters, ever ready to mislead them by giving an ethnic colour to national issues. These are salient planks of the PPP policy at play behind the veneer of respect for the independent judiciary and claims of strengthening the federation. It was not long ago that we heard the President and the entire bunch of his loyal yes-men telling us why it was not possible to restore the judges. They hid behind various excuses because they could not say it plainly that the last thing they wanted was a judiciary that worked without fear or favour. They could not stop the restoration, despite their tireless efforts. Since the restoration, time and again, we have seen the PPP government using every trick in the book to subvert the court's verdicts, refusing to submit itself to the rule of law. Whenever the courts decide against its whimsical wishes, it raises the bogey of victimisation. The present attack on judiciary is nothing new and follows the same strategy. We have heard the PPP wallahs using intemperate, even offensive, language for the judiciary. They refuse to make any distinction between the independent judiciary that was restored after a mass movement and courts that had earlier functioned as appendages of military dictators and political governments. They keep reminding us that the Chief Justice of Pakistan and some other members of the higher judiciary had taken oaths under Musharraf's PCO, but would like to forget the subsequent struggle of the same judges against his dictatorship. They would like us to believe that rather than being a strong pillar of democracy, the independent judiciary is out to subvert the democratic government. This attitude is informed by a perverted sense of what democracy is. It views an elected government as the end-all of democratic governance. The President and his PPP would like us to accept that once elected, the government could act like a monarch, running the country with no regard for the constitution or the rule of law; a monarch who could shut down television channels or sack judges who did not submit to his whims; a monarch who was not responsible or accountable to any institution. They say that the only accountability they recognise is by the voters, who shall speak through their votes in the next elections. But the citizens of Pakistan have moved on from such infantile notions about democracy. For most Pakistanis, an independent judiciary and the rule of law have become its essential components. This does not suit the PPP under Zardari, eager to carry on its anti-people politics behind the smokescreen of emotional appeals, sacrifices of its political martyrs, and perceptions of victimisation. The party has found it convenient to use the case of NAB's now removed chairman to stoke the fires of provincialism. Though Deedar Hussain is a Sindhi, obviously his domicile has nothing to do with why his appointment was declared null and void by the Supreme Court. But the PPP leaders from Sindh are going all out to mislead their Sindhi voters. They are shouting from the rooftops that the 'Punjabi judges have sacked him because he is a Sindhi. And in a most rabid manner, they are linking it up with instances from the past to arouse emotions of victimisation. This is a serious matter. It is obviously not a case of the PPP leadership from Sindh voicing the feelings of those they represent. The leaders are actually misleading their voters and deliberately creating a sense of alienation among them to further the goals of the dirty politics their boss is playing. It is not the first time that President Zardari and his loyalists have pulled out the Sindh card to deal with problems that have nothing to do with Sindh or being Sindhi. And in a similar vein, rather than trying to address the crisis of governance caused by his dictatorial control of the PPP and its governments, he has found a convenient scapegoat in the judiciary that his loyalists are too eager to attack on his behest. The writer is a freelance columnist.