THE commitment made by President Zardari before journalists in Islamabad on Monday that the 17th Amendment would soon be repealed is a much-need reaffirmation. The power to dissolve the National Assembly, dismiss an elected government and appoint services chiefs that this Amendment grants to him is inconsistent with the role assigned to a president under a parliamentary democratic order. The sooner he gives up this dictatorial power, the better for the system to take root. Under this system, the prime minister is the chief executive who is responsible for these matters, as well as the day-to-day affairs of the government. Though the President had, on various occasions, hinted at shedding these powers, he constantly resisted the pressure to make tangible moves towards that end until now. Had he announced it earlier, the country would have been spared uncertainty and precious time that could have been utilised in addressing the various people's problems. The opposition was agitating the issue as forcefully as the restoration of judges. The way things were delayed had seriously damaged the PPP's reputation. The President has acknowledged that political parties face ups and downs while making decisions. While the PPP incurred popular resentment, schisms inside the party made their presence felt. Important party leaders took a stand different from that of the President. One wonders whether other steps that, according to the President, include giving up powers under Article 58(2b), would help restore the party's image. During the discussion with journalists, he also clarified that he had no differences with Prime Minister Gilani. A perception had taken hold that there was a rift between the two over several issues and that the Prime Minister wanted to assert his authority but the President had been trying to relegate him to the background. This had badly tarnished the image of the PPP-led set-up, as it appeared to be a one-man show. President Zardari is reported to have said that after he is relieved of extra responsibilities, he would be able to devote time to other pursuits, which is by no means a bad idea because in parliamentary democracies the President's office is largely ceremonial. One would very much like him to give concrete shape to his commitment without further delay. Coming on the heels of the restoration of the judges, the end of the Governor's rule in Punjab and the reinstallation of Mian Shahbaz Sharif as Chief Minister, relinquishing these powers would be a natural corollary to effect a climate of reconciliation in the country.