The Supreme Court bore out on Wednesday the remarks made by the NRO decision’s implementation bench that the court was not at all anxious to remove the Prime Minister, when it granted a postponement of two weeks, to August 8, after the Attorney General’s assurance that the government would find a solution by then. The SC is seized of the issue of whether the government has written to the Swiss authorities asking for the re-institution of corruption cases against President Zardari. Thus far, the federal government has insisted that the presidential immunity protected him from legal proceedings, and so the letter could not be written. Prime Minister Gilani preferred to be convicted for contempt of court, and thus be disqualified from membership of the National Assembly and also his office, rather than write the letter. The new Prime Minister also informed the court on Tuesday that he could not write the letter.

The basic element of the situation must not be lost sight of. The court has given the government sufficient time to find a way out. However, the only way out, that of writing the letter, appears to contradict a firmly held position of the government, that the letter must not be written. The government does not seem to understand that the court cannot accept that there is another authority in the state able to offer an interpretation of the Constitution after it has announced a decision, which differs from any it has made. The government should not view itself as a vehicle for protecting any particular individual, no matter his relation to the PPP founder, or the position he might hold in the party. The country faces a host of problems, very real ones, and does not need a confrontation between two organs of state added to them. The judiciary does not want to be put in the position of not knowing whether or not its judgments will be implemented, and the executive does not need this distraction from the very real problems of inflation, energy crises and worsening law and order besetting the country. This is not to either exclude or belittle the question of the alliance with the USA, made mainly manifest through the violations of national sovereignty represented in the drone attacks frequently taking place.

The government must act like a responsible government, and bring an end to the national agony by leaving it to the Supreme Court to decide what is right, and implementing its orders, no matter the cost to any particular individual.