IT certainly was a big day for democracy, but most importantly it goes to the credit of the PPP government and President Zardari to be able to usher in the fifth year of his government. This is something rare because God willing it would be the second government after ZAB to see through its full constitutional term of office. The address was itself glorious. Before the start of the speech, Prime Minister Gilani was seen shaking hands with a rare smile with JUI-F Maulana Fazlur Rahman as if exulting over of the widespread support the PPP government enjoyed in the house. JUI-F leader graciously shook PM’s hand. When everyone sat down, the cameras were focused on a beaming President Zardari seated right next to National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza and the ‘Cartesian’ Senate’s Chairman Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari. The fact that Army Chief, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Air Force and Naval Chiefs were sitting in a separate gallery to the right gave the august house the much-needed element of earnestness.

Things seemed perfect, until the President got up for the podium and inadvertently pushed his chair backwards causing it to tumble over. His ADC, a solemn Navy figure with a spook like expression was quick to put it back in its position. Nobody seemed to mind. The President was also unfazed for it was completely an innocuous stinker out of the blue. With his spirits still very much about him, he bolted for the podium with an affable grin looking at the large house. And no sooner he was before the dice than the opposition members from the JUI-F and others bombarded him with howls, catcalls and what not. What was heartening was that the President was least concerned and proceeded right away with the address the moment his ADC stepped forward and whispered something in his ear. He kept grinning albeit moderately as is his wont. But that was where Prime Minister Gilani and others started thumping the desks and in fact were momentarily able to stifle the shouts of disapproval. The great thing was that the President kept talking without anyone making out the contents of the speech. In between when the shouts would die down, one could hear him talk about all the good things and PPPs achievements and the war against terror and all that. The hooting continued in the meanwhile. However, a very strange thing happened. It was when some of the opposition members had staged a walkout from the Assembly, that the President really found talking and smiling really difficult. Perhaps, as if it was the commotion that had until then kept his adrenaline pumping and kept him going. The President stammered from this point onwards and seemed as if would almost disappear behind the podium. His ADC kept his composure all the time and there is least doubt that he appeared ready to lunge forward lest anything should go wrong. However, he was able to waltz home successfully and that was where he again exuded an expression of relief. Nevertheless the smile and the grin returned. Fehmida Mirza also seemed as if a burden been taken off her shoulders. Then and there she prorogued the session causing mirth within the house.