MANY had considered the alliance between the PPP and PML(N), which had initially formed the nucleus of the ruling coalition, as the best available option to deal with the country's economic woes and militancy and for strengthening democracy. While Prime Minister Gilani has said the PML(N) would again be invited to join the government after the restoration of the deposed judges, there is little likelihood of this happening after the government's decision requiring the deposed CJ to take a new oath and to act subsequently as subordinate to the incumbent CJ. This seems to have made parting of ways irrevocable. Mian Nawaz Sharif has meanwhile called on the PPP to sit on the opposition benches in Punjab Assembly following the example of his party in the NA and Senate. This too indicates that the PML(N) has decided to take on the role of the opposition The second best option is now for the PPP and PML(N) to maintain relations on the basis of the principle of peaceful co-existence wherein differences are kept within well defined limits so that they do not overturn the applecart. The parties are well within their right to criticise each other's policies without indulging in character assassination. What they need most is to respect each other's mandate and continue to maintain working relations. Both parties have demonstrated their respective strength in the Presidential elections and it is amply clear that the PPP has the requisite majority at the Centre whereas the PML(N) has the majority in the Punjab. Hence the PML(N) should do nothing to destabilize the PPP government at the Centre while it should be allowed to hold Punjab where it has emerged as the largest single party after the February elections. Attempts to remove it through wheeling dealing at the behest of the Centre would create doubts about the PPP's commitment to provincial autonomy. Similarly recourse to no confidence moves against the federal government or calls for shutter down strikes and road and rail marches have to be avoided because attempts of the sort tend to endanger the economy which is already in bad shape. What is more, they help the Establishment to keep the elected government under thumb or remove it when it suits it. The PPP and PML(N) have signed the Charter of Democracy which strictly forbids them from conspiring with the offstage players. While they are divided over a number of issues, they have committed themselves to changes in the system to strengthen democracy in the country. The 17th Amendment has to go and 58(2)(b) struck down. They have also agreed to form an independent and powerful Election Commission and set up a number of bodies to ensure the rule of law and good governance. Unless they cooperate to bring about the agreed changes, their credibility would be at stake.