Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech during the joint parliament session on Friday contained nothing new or noteworthy. It was a rather long monologue lamenting the unreasonableness of anti-government protestors coupled with praises for all those who stand by the government. The PM was right in highlighting flaws in the PTI’s case and standing his ground, but contributing nothing more on top of that was in error.

Plenty of similar speeches have been made since the joint session commenced. The people have heard enough about all that the PTI-PAT duo is doing wrong and everyone else is doing right. They acknowledge that the parliament has set a good example by putting up a united front against those working against it, but this never-ending self-congratulatory rhetoric is beginning to have a nauseating effect. Is there really nothing more that the government and others in parliament have to offer on the subject? Granted that the PTI and the PAT are doing nothing to make the PM’s job any easier, but surely that is nothing shockingly surprising. At the end of the day, it is the government which is responsible for ending the sit-ins. There is nothing one can take from the PM’s speech which would give so much as a hint about how his government plans to proceed. For now, it appears that the waiting game will continue.

The PM’s speech also failed to address the serious criticism leveled against himself and his cabinet by allies and foes alike. Apparently, the PM doesn’t feel the need to defend his government’s performance during the last 14 months, the same way he didn’t find it necessary to attend parliamentary sessions prior to the march on Islamabad. So many questions have been asked, many of them reasonable, and the PM answered none of them. He may be satisfied and convinced, but many aren’t. By not so much as commenting on issues of governance, the PM only strengthens the case of protestors. It makes the government appear arrogant and aloof which in no way helps its cause.

The PML-N government would do well to understand that it’s old style of governance and general disregard for democratic principles will no more be acceptable to the masses. They expect better, and they expect it now. It will have to mend its ways or it will gradually lose support. Is it ready to rise to the challenge or will the spotlight on it only serve to expose more ills?