Rehman Malik is to Asif Zardari what Jehanzeb Burki is to Mian Shahbaz Sharif. Their appointment to key positions, one as federal interior adviser and the other as adviser to the Punjab CM, shows how much personal loyalty matters for the PPP and the PML(N) leaderships when it comes to running the administrative affairs. Mr Malik turned out to be a huge embarrassment for his party leadership when he advised the NWFP Government to request the Election Commission to postpone the by-elections for two months. This one single move dealt a deathblow to the fragile coalition already shaken by the mutual distrust. Rather than asking for his scalp, Mr Zardari took Mr Malik along to meet Mian Nawaz Sharif and aides in London for a final decision on how to restore the judiciary to the pre-November 3 position. The way the ruling leadership has been dealing with the judges' issue it has become more of a joke. The London yatra which came on the heels of the Dubai debacle indicates that the two sides are somehow convinced that the farther they move away from Pakistan, the easier it would be to resolve the matter. This reminds me of a pithy comment by a one-time great fan of Mian Shahbaz on his favourite verse he would recite wherever he goes: watan ki matti mujhay aerian ragarnay dey, mujhay yaqeen hai chasma yaheen say niklay ga. "But a spring can't sprout here while you keep rubbing your heels half the world away from home," remarked the poor guy before being penalized for his loyalty to the previous regime. Now back to Mr Malik's skullduggery. The way he behaves he has learnt it through hard way in a long journey that began three decades ago with his recruitment in the Protectorate of Immigration on the orders of the late Ch Zahoor Elahi as Zia's Labour Minister, and culminated into his mercurial rise in the profession. The fortunes he made during his stint as Additional Director General of the FIA helped him get close to the late Benazir Bhutto during her exile abroad. And with Mr Zardari currently calling the shots it's time for him to claim the dividends for the services rendered. The dilemma with the PPP is that whenever it comes to power those who are ideologically committed to the party get sidelined and replaced by time-servers. The phenomenon became more obvious after Mr Zardari took over the reins of the PPP. The people like Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani, to name the few, have been replaced by Rehman Malik and others of his ilk. And with friends like them the PPP co-Chairman needs no enemy. There would be few to get carried away by the sort of explanations that the suggestion for the polls' postponement came from Mr Malik alone. Little wonder that his next move may catch Mr Zardari by surprise The Presidency has a reason to have its fondness for such a man who is adding impetus to its effort to drive a wedge between the two major coalition partners. But if the ruling coalition is treading a bumpy path and has not been able to overcome the inherent mistrust to focus on the issues of governance it is not only the PPP to blame. The PML(N) is equally responsible. Mr Jehanzeb Burki's appointment as Punjab CM's Adviser was a blatant attempt to curtail IG Shaukat Javed's powers to appoint police officers of his own choice. It's not difficult to understand how distressing it would be for Mr Zardari to find his tormentor Rana Maqbool acting from behind the scenes in the posting and transfer matters of police officers in the Punjab. Mr Shaukat Javed could have delivered much better on the law and order front provided he was given a free hand to raise his own team. A very fine officer, widely respected among fellow officers for his integrity and professional competence, he stands head and shoulders above many former supercops of the Punjab. Perhaps his only demerit is that he is a PPP nominee. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani is reported to have specially gone to the Sharif's Raiwind Estate to seek Mian Nawaz's consent for Mr Javed's appointment as IG Punjab. Mr Gillani would not have done so had it simply been a matter of obliging a friend; it was a sincere effort to get a right person in the right place. Being a Punjabi PM he is genuinely concerned about the growing lawlessness in the province. It is a strange paradox that Mian Shahbaz wants to improve the law and order situation but has to rely on Mr Burki's advice. Both Mr Zardari and Mian Shahbaz must keep in mind that if they want to save the coalition from falling apart and fulfil their promise of giving good governance to the nation they will have to dispense with the Rehman Maliks and the Jehanzeb Burkis. E-mail: