It is difficult, verging on the impossible, to believe that the PPP and the PML-N under their respective leaderships can ever again come to a meeting of the minds. Prior to this last non-event, an invitation to a presidential banquet accepted by Mian Nawaz Sharif, the press and many 'democrats were waxing joyful over the prospect of Asif Ali Zardari and Sharif falling into each others arms. It cannot happen - history is dead against it. The much-trumpeted get together in London of the Mian and Benazir Bhutto way back in May 2006 was solely prompted by their common loathing and resentment of General Pervez Musharraf, he was the sole glue stick in the entire operation. The flirtations that followed after Benazirs assassination and Zardaris usurpation of her party were similarly prompted not by any even remote feelings of friendliness but by the lingering presence of Musharraf. The 2008 Murree Declaration was a mere show of unity in the face of a common enemy. Once that enemy was removed, through the reneging of Zardari upon his given promise to the US, there was no earthly reason for the PPP and the PML-N to remain on the same wavelength. They reverted to their historic roles. Nawaz Sharif is a child of President General Ziaul Haq, who made him way back in 1981 when the general had him appointed as the finance minister of the Punjab. Nawaz rose steadily, firstly to the post of chief minister of his province and then, with the aid of the army and the weird and wonderful ISI, became prime minister of the country for the first time at the end of 1990, after Benazir Bhutto and her government having been rudely dismissed. Earlier, Zia was the man who hanged Zulfikar Ali Bhutto - Benazirs father - the same man who made Mian Sahib. That by association was enough to ensure that no love was lost between the leaders and the led of the two respective parties which solidly plotted against each other from 1988 to 1999. Each spent much of their energy when in opposition vying to get rid of the other, using means such as ineffective votes of no confidence accompanied by much hanky-panky, approaches to the army and when possible to the president who, with the exception of Nawazs Rafiq Tarar, held dismissal powers. Numerous cases against Benazir and her husband were made at the instigation of Nawaz and his men which had Benazir rushing around the courts and Zardari imprisoned. The same was the case with Benazir and her party people when in power - get Nawaz was the party slogan. During the second PPP government, with Zardari very much a part of it, Nawazs father, Mian Muhammed Sharif, was arrested on a trumped up charge and briefly incarcerated. How can all this be forgotten, let alone forgiven? Now there is no Benazir, only Zardari, who in all probability would not even have been in the country or played any part in government, were it not for the assassination of 2007. He clings on to the powers held by the reviled Musharraf, quite understandably, for without them he would be a zero factor. It is also possible that he has an American guarantee that he will not lose these powers for as long as he remains useful and pliant. Nawaz Sharifs stand, as far as we know, is that these powers must revert to the prime minister, which seat he hopes to occupy for a third time, hence his reluctance to rock the leaky boat. But signs are that this is not about to happen, it is not in Zardaris nature to abide by his word and Nawaz well knows it. So what can he do? Well, for starters, with his popularity graph said to be riding high, he must take a stand against that denial of democracy and of the constitution, the NRO, and hold to it. Having managed a nuclear bomb he can surely manage one of the most pernicious bits of legislation that has ever existed and which is the biggest crime to have been committed by Musharraf against his country - far more lethal than the 2007 emergency which came and went. The NRO must never be allowed to become a permanent law, it must be consigned to the trash can either by Parliament or by the Supreme Court for if it is not this country will descend into an even more disgraceful state than that in which it now finds itself. The problem is that neither party nor its leadership is committed to this country - their commitment is to individual power and to what they can make from it. They have all been with us far too long and none are fit to drag this country out of the morass of violence, non-governance, corruption and poverty. The dire need now is for a fresh group of civilian leaders, supportive of the army and the task it has set for itself, able to come up with an economic plan, a revamping of state institutions and the system of governance, and an ability to influence the national mindset so that the country may become a respected member of the international community. The feeble, impotent, deeply unpopular US-installed government in Islamabad is not the answer. Shortly after the 2008 elections, one puzzled commentator in the international media asked: what kind of democracy is it that puts the fate of the country in the hands of an Asif Zardari and a Nawaz Sharif? How weird, he exclaimed, help me understand. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: