A bit of rumpus and excitement created by the opposition parties and a meaningless recounting of the so-called achievements of the PPP-led government, with little to offer to the distressed nation in the two years left in its term, marked the fourth annual address of the President to the joint houses of Parliament on Tuesday. The varying comments it elicited not only from the opposition leaders, who staged a walk-out after a short spell of noisy protests and remained away from the house for the rest of the duration of the brief address, but also political analysts seem all in order. And all were, as could be expected, anything but flattering. The aptest among them, perhaps, were: the President fulfilled only the constitutional obligation of delivering an annual address; and it contained nothing new. With nearly half of the seats vacant, the house gave a depressing look, with only the PPP and, at times, the coalition partners trying to enliven the atmosphere with cheering and clapping. Mr Zardaris reiteration of the now standard PPPs stratagem to avoid the implementation of judicial orders, which go against the interests of its leadership, came on the day when the Supreme Court, in its full judgment, declared Justice (retired) Deedar Hussain Shah as ineligible, for all time, for appointment against the post of Chairman NAB. The Presidents remark that the state institutions should operate within the parameters defined by the Constitution and that the Constitution and Parliament were supreme was an indirect charge against the judiciary that it was trying to appropriate to itself the prerogatives and functions of the legislature and the executive. Any jurist would simply pooh-pooh this interpretation of the relevant provisions. Only the Constitution is supreme and it has bestowed upon the Supreme Court the authority to interpret the Constitution and given it the power of review. To say that the assassins of Benazir would not go scot-free when more than three years had elapsed since her brutal murder without the culprits having been pinpointed can only provoke a scornful reaction from her loyalists and, indeed, the whole country. The clearest evidence of the poor performance of the government is that almost all this while her own party has been in power, and her own spouse, who took on the mantle of PPPs Co-Chairman, in the saddle as President. The people were keen to know how Raymond Davis got off the hook and how firm was our stand about the drones, particularly since one of its forays into our territory killed 42 innocent tribesmen, but the President remained reticent about these concerns. The address did not contain any plan of action to relieve the people of their most vital worry i.e. survival; in other words, how to meet the challenge of rising inflation and dwindling employment opportunities. The accusation against political opponents of point-scoring rather than judging things on merit was no more than a device to defend the governments own misdeed, and the call for a national dialogue when the issues confronting the country as well as their solutions are so well known was just a formality.