Mian Shahbaz Sharif has done all that he could possibly do to keep President Asif Zardari from breaking his promise of not letting Mr Salman Taseer destabilise the Punjab government. The president did a most generous act for his coalition partners by telling the Governor Punjab in no uncertain terms in a meeting last week to stop creating trouble for the elected leadership in the province. This is understandable. Mr Taseer is neither a lifelong friend nor a diehard jiyala for whom Mr Zardari can put the entire system at stake. Mr Taseer needs to keep in mind that he is no Rehman Malik who is free to make silly utterances and then get away with them. Pity the governor. With no saner counselling coming from his handpicked Adviser Farrukh Shah, he may have to think twice before summoning senior bureaucrats to his office and hurling "you-will-have-to-pay-through-your-nose" threats on them. Civil servants should not be blamed for defiance when they do not carry out the orders, which can't be obeyed. The governor's dilemma is that without any powerful lobby in the PPP at his back he cannot go beyond his brief. He understands that with General Musharraf now lost into the pages of history he can continue to hold the office he was rewarded with in recognition of God knows what services he might have rendered to the pleasure of the president. And when Mr Zardari does not want to upset the applecart, Mr Taseer should stop dreaming about installing any of his puppets as Punjab CM. The 'censure' from the presidency is also a signal for Mr Qasim Zia to stop nursing the notion of grabbing the top slot in the provincial power set-up at least until the PPP leadership is constrained to revert to its original plan of turning Lahore into Larkana. But Mian Shahbaz can avert such an eventuality by keeping the promise he made with the president in his recent meeting, and adhering to the agreed power-sharing arrangement. It is time he realised that his style of governance is not in consonance with the concept of running a coalition. The PPP being a major partner with the federal government in its control will naturally take offence when its members in the Punjab Cabinet are not consulted on important issues. Not just that, the party legislators often complain about the provincial bureaucracy not accommodating them. That being done after denying desired portfolios to the PPP is bound to further deepen the resentment against the Punjab's ruling leadership. There was hardly any justification for this especially when the PML-N got the choicest ministries in the federal government. The Cabinet slots vacated long before Mian Nawaz Sharif finally decided to pull out of the coalition at the Centre have not yet been filled. But the step-motherly treatment meted out to the PPP ministers and MPAs in Punjab has nothing to do with this decision. They felt being alienated from the Day One. The senior minister will keep wondering why the administrative secretaries of the departments he heads disregard his orders. And he seems perturbed to see bureaucracy not paying any heed to the requests of his MPAs, allegedly under instructions of the CM Secretariat. A PPP leader and National Assembly ticket-holder from Lahore, who takes pride in being identified as an ordinary worker despite having contributed more to the party funds than the so-called heavyweights, had a point when he said that the Punjab CM should not have any problem dealing with a not-too-ambitious senior minister. There is no disputing his assertion that Raja Riaz is not the type who would unnecessarily kick up any fuss if he and his fellow partymen were not driven to the wall. The argument that Raja Riaz wants the present set-up to continue just because he understands that any change in it will deprive him of his present position cannot be disputed. But for that he needs the support of his party legislators who will stand behind him so long as he takes care of their interests. Maybe he succeeded in giving some sense of direction to Mian Shahbaz who now seems inclined to mend his policy and run the government by keeping the coalition partners on board in the decision making process. But Raja Riaz has one serious misconception. When he says that Mian Shahbaz pays more respect to the PML-N MPAs than to those of the PPP he simply accuses him of something he is not guilty. The only factor that remains constant during his two terms as CM is his penchant for running the government through bureaucracy. Perhaps the lesson he needs to learn is that it is only the political support, which helps a leader when the going gets tough for him. It did not take Mian Nawaz's loyalists too long to turn their back on the late Ghulam Haider Wyne. And remember he was no less abrasive with his partymen. E-mail: sarmad@nation.com.pk