THE politics of forward blocs which has been one of the major banes of the system since 1999 is back again, courtesy the ongoing no-holds-barred struggle between the two mainstream parties. Earlier Punjab PML(N) had relied on the support of the Q League forward block in its fight against the PPP. Leaders of the block had assured Mian Shahbaz that they would vote for him even if they were to lose seats in violation of party discipline. Now the PPP has decided to beat its rival in the all too familiar game. On Wednesday a member of the Q League forward bloc announced his break with the group. On Thursday, a lady MPA of the PML(N) declared support for the PPP claiming that 26 other party legislators would soon be joining her to create a forward bloc. That she was flanked at the press conference by the sitting and former PPP Punjab Presidents indicated they had a joint claim on the trophy. An explanation by former PML(N) law minister that she was not a genuine PML(N) cadre but a former Q League MPA who was given party ticket after she changed sides in 2007 indicates the dangers of accommodating turncoats. As Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has observed encouragement provided to dissidents to form such blocs weakens the part system while it leads to political instability. It is ironical that the PPP which had been the major target of political engineering after 2002 elections is now blatantly involved in the exercise. Moves to buy the loyalties of the PML(N) deputies at a time when attempts are afoot to bring the PPP and the PML(N) together can only undermine the moves for reconciliation. Equally dangerous for the system are large scale bureaucratic reshuffles on political grounds. Soon after taking over as CM Mian Shahbaz undertook a big overhaul of provincial bureaucracy. A day after the imposition of Governor's rule, Punjab chief secretary and IG police were transferred. A report now tells of as many as 22 officers from the staff of the former Chief Minister having been made OSDs and 9 DIGs transferred. Chief of the Punjab CID was sacked despite his early warning of a possible attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. The hunch for appointing blue-eyed boys to key posts undermines the morale of the civil servants. Whatever lessons the top leaders of the PPP and PML(N) claimed they had learnt from their mistakes committed during 1988-99 seem to have been forgotten. Many think the realization was hardly skin deep. There is a need on the part of the two parties to end their feud, fulfil promises made to the nation during and after the elections and fully abide by the CoD.