As the post-court-verdict scenario unfolds, the general public gets ever more confused and perturbed, on the one hand, at the Prime Minister and PPP’s unabashed flouting of the judiciary and, on the other, at the PML-N’s rhetoric that it will not rest till Mr Gilani is forced out of office. The PPP has crossed all bounds in defying the Supreme Court’s judgments, a totally new phenomenon in the history of Pakistan and of even any other democratic nation. This attitude puts into question the sacred tenet of governance in letter and in spirit of the Constitution and the supremacy of the rule of law, and throws the public mind into agonising turmoil, for failing to see the course the country is set to take from now onwards. The PML-N’s vociferous opposition to the ruling coterie’s desperate attempt to hold on to power would have given a ray of hope to the people who are sick and tired of the government’s performance, had it not been for its repeated retreats from a similarly defiant attitude to a posture of friendly opposition.

The ruling alliance has, beyond any doubt, lost its constitutional as well as moral legitimacy to stay in power. But in the Pakistan of today it is idle to expect that it would pack up and go on its own or be pushed out by mere critical slogans. The time for sloganeering has gone by. The opposition parties, whether the PML-N, the PTI, the JI or any other, acting singly, do not have any chance of unseating the convicted Prime Minster. They have to act in unison with a firm resolve and not separately with an indecisive attitude. That calls for their joining heads together to work out a common strategy about how to pressurise the government to accept their demand, while staying within democratic means of protesting.

PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif seems to be having a change of mind about his views about the PML-Q, the party he has for long refused to accept back in the PML-N’s fold. Reportedly, he has expressed the willingness to accept a Prime Minister belonging to it. It would serve Mian Sahib’s cause better if he were to reconsider his attitude of shunning the return of the PML-Q to its mother party. In the meantime, in this unseemly game of politicking, the US has adopted a policy that is clearly at odds with being the so called leader of the democratic world. Treating the situation internal to Pakistan, it continues to recognise Mr Gilani as Prime Minister.

One shudders to think that the government’s wish to operate outside law and Constitution might persuade the army, which has so far thankfully avoided jumping in the fray, to have second thoughts. It is time for the rulers to listen to saner counsels or else for the opposition to make a decisive move.