Addressing the Senate last week, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani asked the NRO-beneficiaries working for the government to voluntarily resign from their positions. Obviously, his request was not applicable to President Zardari, who tops the list of those who benefited from the now defunct National Reconciliation Ordinance. The Prime Minister seems determined to protect the President from any fallout, resulting from the striking down of the controversial ordinance that clea-red his way to the presidency and, according to some analysts, this might land him in trouble. After beating about the bush for months, the government is finally expected to request the Supreme Court not to take any action against President Zardari until he completes his tenure. Despite a lot of noise about immunity enjoyed by the President under the constitution raised by the Prime Minister and his PPP colleagues, for some reason, the plea was not made in the court that wants the government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities withdrawing its earlier request of closing cases against President Zardari in light of the NRO. After a farce-filled delay, the Prime Minister is now reported to have signed a Law Ministry summary stating that the government will not write any such letter that might lead to the reopening of cases against the President. While there is nothing wrong about a government wishing to interpret the constitutional provisions in a way that suits its goals, the buck on interpreting the constitution stops at the Supreme Court, and it would have been so much better for the government to bring its interpretation to the court ear-lier, instead of indulging in time-wasting two-faced antics. The Prime Minister, who does not tire of reminding everyone about institutional boundaries, should have known this better than anyone else. The way his government has gone about implementing the Supreme Courts order on NRO betrays a lack of sincerity and a general unsaid resolve to ignore and subvert the courts orders wherever possible. Whether it is the manipulation of NAB or the Law Ministry, the refusal to take action against NRO-tainted ministers and public functionaries or the pardoning of those convicted in reopened cases, time and again, the government has shown by its actions that it gives little importance to the decisions of the highest court in the land. In another insincere gesture, the Prime Minister has announced that he had requested the Establishment Division for a list of NRO-beneficiaries working on government positions. Obviously, this is just another one of his farcical delaying tactics. Had the Prime Minister been sincere about cleaning his government of NRO-beneficiaries, he could have started from a large number of well-known NRO-beneficiaries enjoying high offices in his government. Asking for lists is alright, and it could help him in a more comprehensive clean-up operation, but what is stopping him from acting against his high-profile colleagues that are known by all and sundry to be tainted by the NRO? And though there is a lot of criticism about how a remote-controlled NAB is helping the NRO-beneficiaries by not producing evidence against them in reopened cases, that is the least expected of them: to clear their names in a court of law before enjoying any public office. A day after the Prime Minister spoke in the Senate, his senior PPP-colleague, Jahangir Badar, was acquitted by an accountability court. This should give courage to other ministers and government officials to similarly clear their name. And once they have been cleared of charges against them, nobody could object to their inclusion in the Cabinet or in important government offices. Insisting that the charges should first be proved before any action is taken against them makes no sense and defies the universal ethics in a democracy. For the government, however, democracy is something that is as good as an Egyptian mummy that will come to life at the time of next elections. The Supreme Court that has shown a lot of patience and restraint, so far in the face of constant foot-dragging of the government, seems to have had enough. It sent to jail two NRO-beneficiaries last week. And now some analysts are saying that it is the Prime Ministers turn. They say that by refusing to write the letter to Swiss authorities as ordered by the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister has committed contempt of court, and could be punished for it. Hopefully, things would not be pushed that far and the government would be able to present its interpretation of the Presidents immunity under the constitution in a respectful manner to the court and accept the courts judgement on whether that should stop the government from writing the desired letter or not. That, however, is just a part of the trouble that the present-day NRO-propelled democratic government faces. Criticism is mounting against it from a number of quarters and for a number of reasons. The governments confrontation with the judiciary and its defiance of court orders has not gone down well with anyone except its jiyalas. Even within the PPP, sane voices that advised restraint are getting louder. In their boldest statement since Zardaris ascension to power in the PPP and as President, senior PPP leaders Safdar Abbassi and Naheed Khan, have asked him to mend his ways and openly criticised their partys government of going astray. The PML-N has withdrawn its unqualified support to the government in Parliament that it had pledged for it to complete its term. It is calling for a change within the constitutional framework. Some other parties, like the MQM and the merged All Pakistan Muslim League, seem more impatient and shown a tacit openness to extra-constitutional ways of getting rid of the government. The ball is clearly in the PPPs court. Is it a darbar of loyalists or does the largest political party in the country have enough conscientious members in its ranks, who could bring some sense to those running the show for them? The writer is a freelance columnist.