THE hope for a smooth run of democracy raised following the general elections, when both the parties, the PPP and the PML(N), had decided to let bygones be bygones, has now receded into oblivion. Unfortunately, the reconciliation efforts after the Sharif brothers' disqualifications, which should have been undertaken on a priority basis, are moving at a snail's pace. Though President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani both agreed in a meeting in Islamabad yesterday that reconciliation should be given a chance, the way the government intends to resolve the tricky situation, including the issues of the judges' reinstatement and the disqualification of Sharif brothers, remains anybody's guess. It is being claimed that it sent Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani to meet Mian Shahbaz Sharif primarily with the purpose of bringing about a rapprochement. A ray of hope has appeared as Mr Shahbaz termed the talks positive, though he insisted that there could be no progress until the government fulfils its commitments. At the same time, both sides continue to engage in mudslinging as well, hence the urgency of catching the bull by the horns. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, to everyone's dismay, remarked that he was not in a hurry to lift the governor's rule. His tirade against Mian Shahbaz would aggravate an already tense situation. Yesterday PPP activists took to the streets in different parts of the country to protest against the burning of Benazir's portraits. The protesters resorted to sloganeering and there were reports of clashes between PPP and PML(N) workers. What is more, PML(N) Chief Mian Nawaz Shairf met Jamaat-i-Islami Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmed, and it was decided that both the parties would muster their energies to make the long march and the sit-in successful. The alarming thing is that the confrontation is taking on the character of a personal vendetta. Consider, for instance, the statement coming from Mian Nawaz on Monday, that President Zardari was the incarnation of General Musharraf. Worse still, a PPP leader replied by saying that the ghost of General Ziaul Haq was still alive in Mian Nawaz. Both sides thus ought to realize the gravity of the situation. Having said that, the onus lies on the government, which has stakes larger than the opposition to normalize the situation. Among others, the most burning issue is that of the Sharif brothers' electoral disqualification. A solution to that is indispensable if the political temperature is to be brought down. Parliament can strike down the law, which is the basis of the judgement, with retrospective effect so that the Court's decision becomes invalid. Time is fast running out.