The president's address to the Parliament last Saturday was a strange show. The address had been preceded by his visit to Balochistan, one of the two issues on which his spin-doctors had built up a hype in the media. The other issue was his address to the Parliament. The Balochistan visit was a dud as it did not even come close to the hype: all it threw up was a financial package Mr Zardari announced in Quetta. He spent most of his time trying to bring the different PPP elements in the province together. While during his address to the Parliament at Islamabad he urged the parliamentarians to develop a Balochistan policy. This is a case of much ado about nothing. Coming back to the president's address, there were two principal issues of concern in the national view. One was the lifting of the Governor's Rule from Punjab to facilitate the restoration of an elected government in that province. Prime Minister Gilani, who has stated several times in the last few weeks that he opposed Governor's Rule in Punjab, was also present in the joint house along with Governor Punjab Taseer. Finally the Governor's Rule in Punjab has been lifted and the necessary notification issued. As Governor Salman Taseer parts, he shall have acquired the second dubious, and gruesomely tragic, distinction of a very bloody terrorist attack on the Manawan Police Academy in Lahore. The first, still fresh in our mind, was the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team early March. Meanwhile, the review plea before the Supreme Court on the disqualification of the Sharif brothers - Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif - ended in the grant of stay on Tuesday by the larger bench, restoring Shahbaz Sharif as the Chief Minister of Punjab. The coup that was attempted on February 25 by Mr Taseer, with the full backing of the president, stands fairly and squarely defeated. But they don't seem to register any loss of face. The other issue was the notorious 17th amendment of the constitution and the equally notorious 58-2(b) under which the president can dissolve the National Assembly. Unfortunate for him, this authority he is unlikely to be able to exercise anyway, now that the independent judges are restored. In the event, blowing his chance, he merely urged the Parliament to appoint a committee to recommend implementation of the Charter of Democracy, a time old technique of prevarication. Forwarding such burning issues to committees is an old device used by governments to gain time. But in the post-March 16 Pakistan, it is unlikely to help: people expect hands on solutions to issues, they have waited long enough. The incumbent president's apologists and flatterers say that he has recovered much of the lost political ground through his address to the Parliament. "He spoke with confidence," they suggest, and commented on all domestic and foreign issues, restoring his image damaged after he had to buckle down on the judges' issue. However, undoubtedly, they have ignored the lack of substance in the president's address. A clever man who knows when to give in, Mr Zardari is aware he is on the back foot and there are not too many options he is left with. Although the PML-N government in Punjab has been reinstated, the incumbent president and his cronies will continue to wheel and deal. The incumbent president is unlikely to say no for the PPP to rejoin the provincial cabinet and business as usual. The annulment of the 17th amendment is now the writing on the wall. Mr Zardari's speech in the Parliament which he ended with the slogan Pakistan khape is of no consequence. He might just about survive as a figurehead president, sans powers under the 17th amendment. But the danger in this possibility is that he might decide to become the prime minister. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the PPP is indeed stressed but not in a position - yet in a position - to prevent that from happening. The writer is a former ambassador at large.