THE inability of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to assert himself within his constitutional powers in the face of the Party Leader and President, Mr Zardari, is becoming ever more frustrating not only for him but also for his well-wishers and the public at large. Despite the restoration of the formal balance of power in favour of the Prime Minister, as a result of the 18th Amendment, Mr Gilani remains a captive to the commands of the Presidency. Therefore, his ministers also ignore him and look towards the Presidency for support while taking their orders from Mr Zardari. It is doubtful if Mr Gilani has control over any national policy-making or of his own cabinet. Yet, if push comes to shove and some form of accountability is actually set in motion, it is Mr Gilani as Prime Minister who will have to face the music. It is him, in his capacity as Prime Minister who will be held accountable for nepotism, out-of-turn appointments and all the other shenanigans the present set of decision-makers are indulging in. Therefore, if Mr Gilani is really unable to assert himself as the Prime Minister, he should step aside and let someone who can be a Prime Minister not just in name but in actions also take over through the democratic route that exists for such change. That the Prime Minister himself is increasingly perturbed about the situation in which he is being bypassed and simply made into a rubber stamp for the Presidency is of little comfort to the nation which expected a change in the style of governance with the passage of the 18th Amendment. Now it appears that like so many other things in Pakistan, power rests where it should not constitutionally be resting anymore. Whether it is the clandestinely prepared accountability bill or some other national issue, the Prime Minister is found revealing an unacceptable ignorance. The situation has become so disturbing that even the allies of the government like the MQM, JUI-F and ANP are beginning to bypass the PM and heading for the Presidency instead. As for the main opposition party, the PML-N, it is feeling increasingly betrayed because commitments made to it by the Prime Minister remain unfulfilled because of Presidential diktat. The inability of the Prime Minister to act as the Chief Executive and the refusal of the President to allow the PM to play his due role is eroding the fragile democratic structure that exists today. It is almost as if the President has a compulsion to pull down the Prime Minister periodically to remind him who really holds the strings of political power. But at the end of the day, if the Prime Minister wanted, he has the wherewithal to be assertive as his office demands in terms of policy making and all the functions that now fall under the purview of the Chief Executive. It is Mr Gilanis weakness that is making a mockery of the office of the Prime Minister.