IF the Prime Ministers address to the nation on Saturday did not contain the commitment that he would give the Supreme Court a written assurance, it had asked for, against any intention of the government to withdraw the executive order that had restored the deposed judiciary, it certainly removed the apprehension that it could do so in the future. The news report that it was about to issue a rescinding order to put an end to the pressure to implement the unsavoury verdicts of the apex court, or the rumour to that effect, has at least served that purpose. However, the speech did not clear the nagging confusion in the public mind about the future course of judiciary-executive relationship in the country. Rather, it became evident, in a way, that the governments current confrontational posture would continue to persist. From his words as well as from the fact that he had assembled leaders from different parts of the country around him while speaking to the nation, it appeared that Mr Gilani wanted to assert his authority in sticking to the present posture towards the judiciary. The absence of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif was also an indication that the federal government had no plans to implement the landmark verdict on NRO. Mr Gilanis offer that, as with the army and opponent political forces in the country, the government would like to sit down with the judiciary to settle matters of contention, sounded pretty strange and unrealistic. For one thing, the courts would have no grouse against the government, if it were to implementing their verdicts, in letter and in spirit. In that, they enjoy the wholehearted backing of the democratic-minded sections of society. For another, under the separation of powers, as outlined in the Constitution, the judiciary is assigned the role of interpreting the laws enacted by the legislature, and even assessing whether they were consistent with the Constitution. Its orders cannot be flouted with impunity. This need must be realised by the other pillars of the state, if the rule of law has to take its course. There is no justification for sitting down on this point. It is also wrong to say that Parliament is supreme, except in certain spheres; that status goes to the Constitution, and all institutions of the state have to conform to its provisions. The position of the watchdog rests with the judiciary, which has the duty to point out violations and assign punishments, as provided under the law and Constitution. The PM asserted that his words of denial of the media report were as valid as a written statement, conveniently forgetting that right on the floor of the House he had once hinted at the cancellation of the executive order that he said did not as yet have parliamentary approval. Interestingly, he mentioned this in his speech, dismissing his views as peoples ideas. The continued defiance of the judiciary weakens the democratic process and threatens the countrys stability. It must be eschewed.