A half empty Parliament. A dejected looking Prime Minister. And a speech that explained nothing and defended much. In his first comment on the ongoing stalemate with PTI and PAT, Nawaz Sharif spent a while thanking all those that supported him and the democratic process, in a tone that was strained from the constant pressure of holding the tide back. Words such as, “We have survived difficult times”, could have been interpreted as citing a measure of perseverance, or a leader telling his followers that it was good while it lasted but the end of the line was near. The lack of conviction made it sound like he was trying to convince himself just as much as the public.

The roles are all mixed up. A sitting Prime Minister, elected through an unambiguous victory has no answers, no solutions in the ongoing political crisis, while an unflinching opposition party stands at the doors of the parliament, rejecting any and every proposition that the government makes. Their argument of too little too late adequately describes every course of action the government has tried so far. Expressing hopes for this crisis to pass with his leadership intact makes Nawaz look like a man out of ideas, accepting that things are now out of his hands. Imploring the opposing parties to back down in the interest of the economy once more, almost wishing that this were enough to let hostilities subside.

So what happens next? PTI has ended the peace progress until the PM hands in his resignation and Imran has vowed to keep himself planted at D chowk until he gets what he wants. Nawaz will be leaving for Turkey on Thursday. Surely by now, Nawaz ought to have learnt that ruling by absence never works well for anyone. Delegating the task of explaining the process of talks with PTI and PAT, the Prime Minister sat down inspiring no belief or confidence in his request for allowing their vision to be implemented. But someone must find answers, and if the government can’t do it, it seems there are other takers standing by.