THE two caravans of long marchers, one from Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab and the other from NWFP, have finally joined at Islamabad. Despite earlier complaints by the lawyers' leadership that hindrances were being created in their way and reports that shipping containers had been brought in to block the protestors' access to Constitution Avenue, things improved after the Islamabad administration and the lawyers' representatives signed a 20-point agreement on Thursday. The government has promised to provide facilities to the protest marchers and the PM's Interior Advisor has said they could camp in Islamabad as long as they desired. While some leaders of the lawyers' community would like the protesters to continue to sit in outside Parliament House till the judges were finally restored, others would like to take a decision in this regard after reaching the capital. The issue of the restoration of the deposed judges continues to cast a shadow on the relationship between the core partners in the ruling coalition. The PPP has stayed away from the march and some of its leaders, including Information Minister Sherry Rehman and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, have in fact made light of the lawyers' struggle. The PML(N) on the other hand has put all its weight on the lawyers' side. Addressing the participants of the long march on Thursday, Mian Nawaz Sharif noted the irony of the lawyers struggling to get the judges reinstated even after an elected government was in office. He underlined however that the PPP and PML(N) were in complete agreement on the reinstatement of the judges, and their differences were confined to the mode of restoration. A couple of days earlier, however, Mian Nawaz Sharif had hinted at the possibility of the parting of ways if the issue continued to hang fire. The protesters who have converged on Islamabad include, besides the lawyers, civil rights activists, prominent literary figures, former diplomats, ex-servicemen, and students. Mr Zardari has meanwhile said the PPP stood by its promise to restore the deposed judges and that all matters in this regard would be decided by Parliament. A provision meanwhile has been made in the Budget to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from 16 to 29 to accommodate both the deposed judges and those who took oath under the PCO. The payment of arrears to the former also indicates that the government considers them as being still in service. Under the circumstances there is hardly any sense in continuing to delay the restoration. The long march has taken place at a time when the National Assembly and Senate are in session. There are many who think this is the best time to restore the judges through a resolution of Parliament followed by an executive order, provided the PPP-led coalition has the political will which so far is lacking.