Within days of declaring in the National Assembly that midterm elections remained an option, Ch Nisar has denied that his party ever asked for snap polls. A categorical demand by another PML(N) MNA on the floor of the house that midterm polls must be held next year was thus no more than a theatrical exercise. So was the clear cut demand made by Khwaja Asif on a TV channel a day earlier. Calls of the sort made by leaders otherwise considered responsible manage to do enough harm by the time they are withdrawn. They tend to strengthen the perception of political uncertainty among local business community and foreign investors which is harmful for national economy. The common man finds it difficult to believe his ears when all the sound and fury on the part of the Leader of the Opposition ends up in a whimper like We dont like to destabilize you. People have given you the right to govern.

Whether the sporadic fireworks are caused by the plentiful loose cannons on both sides or they are a part of a good cop bad cop type politicking, the result is the same. The government gets panicky and runs around to find new allies who demand a price at the cost of good governance. The PPP plans to hit back in Punjab by making a common cause with PML(Q). Sensing danger, the PML(N) embraces the Forward Bloc in Punjab Assembly which, not long ago, was part of the simply untouchable Musharraf League.

There is a need on the part of the PPP and PML(N) to realize that they have to respect the mandate given to each by the electorate in the general elections which requires doing nothing that could destabilise their respective governments at the centre and in Punjab. Initiating the game of musical chairs is also contrary to the letter and spirit of the Charter of Democracy. Unless the two parties learn to bear with each other during the remainder of their tenure, they will be strengthening the hands of the powers waiting in the wings to get rid of them and democracy in one blow.