THE President made a final assertion of his unbridled power in a most regretful fashion - by turning Rehman Maliks termination into retirement. Malik, the present Interior Minister, was terminated in 1996 over corruption charges. The Presidents actions have in one fell swoop provided a commendation of corruption reflecting the thinking of the present national leadership. If, as reports go, Mr Malik had been appealing against this termination, the process should have been allowed to follow a natural course. What was the urgency of the President to act in such an unbecoming fashion and for the Prime Minister to tender this formal advice? This is a direct slap in the face of the judiciary and the NRO verdict also, which sought to act against corruption by unravelling the unholy deal brokered by the US, the UK and the Musharraf regime. Clearly, the message coming from the Presidency is that if you have friends in the right places, you can get away with corruption. The President has shown no respect for the law or for any rules and procedures and has sent a loud and clear message to the Pakistani nation that he will continue to rule the country as a personal fiefdom. This message had earlier gone out in the remission of prisoners sentences to get the Presidents friend Riaz Shaikh out of incarceration; but the action on the Malik case is even more brazen an act of willful indulgence. The irony is that this favour to Malik comes in the wake of the UN Report on Ms Bhuttos murder which clearly critiqued Rehman Maliks actions as well as leaving a big question mark as to why he effectively fled from the scene. Clearly, there is still much to unravel on this count and the one thing the UN Report has done is to ensure that soon enough this unraveling will begin, one way or another. Meanwhile, the nation can only add to its increasing frustration and helplessness in the way the high and mighty show scant regard for the law and by implication the good of the country.