Despite long struggles and experience of prematurely losing governments twice in the recent past, the Pakistan Peoples Party has yet to learn how to win friends. It has an uncanny knack of converting its accomplishments into non-events and a tendency to deviate from tradition unnecessarily. The recognition and acclaim of major breakthroughs like developing a consensus for launching army operations against militants in the frontier region, repatriation of millions of internally displaced persons to their homes, creation of Gilgit-Baltistan followed by elections, NFC Award and distribution of cash among the needy through Benazir Income Support Programme have remained understated and pushed back in the memory lane. What have been in the forefront of the media attention and kept alive in the public minds are the perceptions of government failures. The PPP co-chairman exhibited great political skill initially, as he managed to bring all political parties on the same page and eased out the military dictator. He shrewdly put together governments in the four provinces and the centre but was not mentally prepared to bear the cost for cobbling coalitions with unlikely bedfellows, each one of which had demands for their pound of flesh. The first blow was scored by PML-N that walked out of the coalition in the centre reno-uncing nine significant ministries, in retaliation of backtracking by Mr Zardari from his various agreements and deadlines to restore the judiciary. The second setback was the public backlash on a few insensitive clauses inserted in the Kerry-Lugar Bill, interpreted to be against our sovereignty that had escaped the attention of our government functionaries deputed to monitor the debates in both the US houses and to lobby at the proper time for favourable conditions, thus jeopardising the $7 billion US monetary aid. Our media man-agers were equally unprepared and too casual in presenting it to the public. The government had to be rescued by personal appearances of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry and special envoy Richard Holbrook, whose comprehensive interactions with the media and our people built some confidence and succeeded in diluting the resistance. The third revolt came from the coalition partners MQM and ANP that declined their support in Parliament to give a new life to the NRO ordinance and pass it as law. The president and the government had to buckle under pressure of a long march by the lawyers, PML-N and the civil society when the army chief of staff and the western influence prevailed upon the president to restore the judiciary by an executive order that they had maintained for a whole one year to be not doable. A serious confrontation and civil disturbance were averted. The judges promptly declared the NRO as ultra-virus and ordered re-opening of all cases including the Swiss cases of money laundering against the president. In hindsight, all of the above were self-inflicted as a consequence of poor judgment and inadequate homework. The PPP now finds itself in a quagmire on all fronts, though not all of its own making. Mr Zardari had a glorious start as the unanimously elected co-chair of the party after the assassination of its charismatic leader. 'National reconciliation was the buzz word. The PPP candidate made history by getting elected unanimously as prime minister and the slots of president, speaker and chairman Senate were also breezily filled by PPP. All that was needed now was to get on with good governance and confront the formidable challenges of terrorism and faltering economy that were the major concerns of the ordinary citizens. However, just within two years the credibility of the president has slid to rock bottom. People have no respite either from terrorism or from the rising cost of living, despite huge costs in terms of human lives and bank loans. The initial goodwill has gradually translated into severe personal acrimony by opposing political parties and sections of the media. By choosing to retain the co-chairmanship of a political party, the president has exposed himself as a target of political recrimination that would normally not be directed against the president representing the federation. The large federal Cabinet that has several ministers with tainted backgrounds of financial corruption and many that are accused of incompetence has underperformed and appears directionless. The president has been democratically elected for a term of five years and whether the government stays or goes, he shall complete his term unless impeached by a two-third majority of the combined houses. The president has the discretion of making a few key appointments. He also has the power to dissolve the National Assembly under article 58-2(B) that has been blunted by a recourse to the Supreme Court that is most likely to strike it down under normal circumstances. Under our parliamentary democratic structure, all executive powers rest with the prime minister that has the prerogative to advise the president to dissolve the National Assembly, subsequent to which fresh elections are to be called by the Election Commission within 90 days that comes into effect automatically. Two things can therefore be surmised. One that the president shall complete his term of office unless he decides to step down voluntarily and two that he cannot remove the prime minister against his will. Mr Zardari is thus all powerful not because he is the president of the Islamic Republic but because he heads the political party that holds a majority in Parliament and Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani was elected prime minister as his nominee, after the Peoples Party and its coalition partners secured a majority in Parliament in the February 18, 2008 elections. The president makes the decisions in the capacity of the co-chairman of the majority party that the prime minister implements. The president derives his strength from his party and will therefore be able to function in the same manner even after the constitutional package is introduced and passed. However, his powers will be immeasurably diluted if he relinquishes his party post. The public has been unhe-sitant in apportioning the blame of all misadventures exclusively with the president perceived to be more preoccupied with self-preservation. The prime minister has had the opportunity, in this scenario, to develop a rapport with all political forces of the country and has emerged as an agreeable man of consensus with a conscience. The political system will doubtlessly strengthen if the long-awaited constitutional package is unanimously approved and the president, prime minister, judiciary, media and other institutions are all allowed to function and resist the temptation to exceed their limits. Let sanity prevail. The writer is an engineer and an entrepreneur. Email: