Mr Zardari was sitting half the world away from home telling the west that its investment in the Pakistan's military and arms had resulted in the rise of extremism when his handpicked Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani charged Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani with tackling the violence in the troubled tribal region bordering Afghanistan. Back from Athens, where he blasted the west for exploiting Pakistan and manipulating it as a tool for Cold War intrigues and finally abandoning it to the forces of extremism and fanaticism, Mr Zardari certainly needed some break before he could return home to set his sights on resolving the crisis the country is facing. Ensconced in Dubai for about a week he convened a meeting of his senior party members, including Mr Gilani who made a stopover there while returning from Malaysia, to discuss important matters. Next stop London. Perhaps he thought it would be easier for him to get hold of Mian Nawaz Sharif and convince him about the advisability of rejoining the federal government when those who compel him to stick to his stance on the judges' issues won't be around to mislead him. Mr Zardari would obviously want the coalition partners to share some blame for the dismal performance of his government in the first 100 days after coming into power. There is no doubt that Mian Nawaz cannot escape the responsibility for the current dispensation's failures to resolve the crisis facing the country since his party's government in Punjab performed equally badly in providing any relief to the masses. The backbreaking hike in the prices of essential commodities is becoming a curse. Good governance is not all about conducting surprise raids and dismissing delinquent officials when nothing substantial is being done to redress the public grievances. The ruling coalition remained bogged down in the judges' issue without resolving it and differences between the two major partners over the future of President Musharraf persist. Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif sounded optimistic when he talked the other day about the early resolution of lingering dispute between the PPP and PML-N over the reinstatement of deposed judges. But he did not explain how bringing them back to the Bench would spell an end to the hardships of the poor and downtrodden millions. Mian Shahbaz's commitment to the rule of law cannot be disputed. But his view that the Bhurban Declaration is clear on the issue of reinstatement of the judges is hardly relevant when the PML-N leadership has virtually abandoned it. Its dilemma is that after giving so much hype to this particular issue it fears losing public support by dithering about its commitment. Mian Nawaz, however, seems unprepared to realise that in order to strengthen democracy and hold the coalition together he needs to shed his obduracy. This is not to say that one holds any brief for Mr Zardari whose constant foot dragging on contentious issues keeps the two mainstream parties from performing their promised task of nation-building. The ruling coalition appears to be losing control of the situation and the country is worse off than it was at the time of its assumption of power. And when Mr Gilani says that he will soon inform the nation about his government's achievements it is like Maulana Fazlur Rehman claiming that the JUI is the country's largest ideological party. But then to give the devil his due. If the PPP leadership leaves it to the army chief to decide a given situation of militancy demands military action or not in the restive region it alone is not to blame for abdicating its responsibility. Mian Nawaz and his party cannot avoid taking the flak for playing politics when the country is facing a serious threat to its sovereignty. The military operation became inevitable as the militants earlier operating in the tribal areas were getting ready to invade Peshawar. It is disconcerting to find the ruling coalition suffering from mutual strife and lack of unity when the militants were regrouping their forces for renewed attacks on the security forces. Rather than putting excuses Mian Nawaz should have risen to the occasion and made coordinated efforts to jointly defeat the monster of extremism which recently started rearing its ugly head. There cannot be two opinions that the menace spread on General Musharraf's watch whose slavish subservience to the Bush Administration brought the country to the verge of destabilisation. It however bears repeating to both Mian Nawaz and Mr Zardari that they are doing a great disservice to the nation by not accepting the ownership of the situation nor blocking the American plans to conduct military strikes on our territory. They must stop playing politics at the expense of nation's sovereignty or they are bound to lose credibility. Pity the ruling leadership. It is in power for over three months now but has to rush to Dubai or London every time it feels like discussing important national issues and maintaining their secrecy. But this Big Brother syndrome constantly haunting them seems to have affected their ability to sense the prevalent feeling of betrayal among the masses. E-mail: