THE unseemly standoff between the PPP and PML(N) has finally ended, thanks to back channel diplomacy by senior leaders from both sides. Prime Minister Gilani's phone call from Tripoli to Mian Shahbaz must have also contributed to the process of conciliation. A PML(N) spokesman has withdrawn the 48-hour ultimatum delivered two days back by party's Information Secretary. A day earlier, PPP's otherwise abrasive Information Secretary had described the ongoing war of words, in which she too had played a significant role, as a storm in a tea cup. President Zardari has reportedly told his party officials to refrain from irresponsible utterances against the PML(N) leadership. The most thoughtful observations have however been made by Mian Nawaz Sharif. Speaking at an Iftar dinner on Wednesday he categorically stated that he was against confrontation. The country, he said, cannot afford another era of political instability. He said he wanted the present government to complete its tenure. Rejecting taunts from political provocateurs, he said he did not mind PML(N) being called a friendly opposition but would in no case be a party to derailing democracy. There seems to be a realisation on both sides that confrontation can benefit only the forces opposed to democracy. One hopes the realisation is not temporary. While the PPP and PML(N) need to cooperate to keep the system on rails what is needed on the part of the government is to execute the existing agreements between the two sides. It is a matter of concern that despite the passage of a year and half, there is still no progress on the implementation of the Charter of Democracy. Similarly despite a committee having been formed to make recommendations regarding 17th amendment and 58(2)b, no concrete proposals have so far been worked out. By removing the chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills the government conceded that the media reports regarding corruption at high level were not incorrect. Interior Minister Rehman Malik subsequently promised that the government would deal with corruption with a heavy hand. No move in the direction has so far been made. The federal and the provincial governments need to pay attention to the improvement of governance. They have to get rid of ministers with seedy reputation, rein in unruly legislators and corrupt officials. There is a need on the part of the PPP and PML(N) to work together to achieve these objectives. The issue of Musharraf's trial cannot be left hanging fire for long.. The two sides should enter into talks to create conditions conducive to bringing the former dictator to book.