From the Charter of Democracy via Murree Declaration to Dubai negotiations and London talks the split between PPP and PML(N), predicted by many early on, has finally taken place. Who is to blame is not relevant. Nor should it be of any concern that this has happened - it is but a part of political process and democracy. What however matters is how the leaders will behave now. Will our politicians work in an atmosphere of understanding and mutual assistance or go down the oft repeated and disastrous path of confrontation. I believe that the majority of Pakistanis do not want another crises, and notwithstanding the justification, will not forgive the politicians who lead the nation towards another conflict. The country needs its leaders to move forward cautiously and steadily, bridging the gap where possible, but certainly without hostility, and successfully completing this transitory phase from the end of a semi-democratic eight year period and the PCO to full democracy. Haste is unnecessary and could waste all that have been achieved. Pakistan has a turbulent political history where there have been repeated disruptions and crises have followed crises. Political schisms perhaps began in the conflict between Bhutto's PPP and PNA movement in 1970s and after Zia's coup, followed by the hanging of ZAB through the judicial verdict of Supreme Court (SC) Pakistan witnessed an armed insurrection (MRD) led by Benazir Bhutto. Zia's era saw the growth of many of present day leaders including Nawaz. The divisions created in PNA movement and enmities during Zia's regime continued after his death, when the leaders of PPP and Muslim League (various groups) bitterly and unnecessarily opposed each others' governments. Both Benazir and Nawaz Sharif, when elected as prime ministers followed a policy of vendetta and the conflict was taken to such extremes that the concept of the federation was put into jeopardy (BB, as PM could not even move freely in Punjab where Nawaz Sharif was the Chief Minister). Both Peoples Party and Nawaz Sharif were even involved in serious conflicts with the judiciary and Pakistan experienced its worst judicial crises when the SC, hearing the case of Sharif's contempt, was physically attacked. During all this time further divisions were created across society when violent crimes between MQM and PPP became regular occurrences in Sindh. After Musharraf's coup of 1999 the political scene was further muddled and divided when past friends became foes and a large group of politicians belonging to PML(N) and PPP broke away and formed a new government. This government under the leadership of PML(Q) continued to prosecute the leadership of both PPP and PML(N). The result is that till today feelings of distrust and enmity between many of then leaders are still lying torment and leading to irrational decisions which are harmful to national interest. The world has however designed a solution for coming out of conflicts (which are much more serious than the ones faced by Pakistan) and healing the injuries within nations. The remedy is to enter into a genuine Post-Conflict Peace Building Mechanism (PCPBM) or what is more commonly known as the process of "reconciliation" or "conflict management". Reconciliation, of course, can be taken in many senses. NRO under which convictions have been set aside has of course tainted the concept in the eyes of people. But the reconciliation I am concerned with is an amalgam of forgiveness, justice, mercy, peace and above all co-existence and harmony with a strategy to move on without a baggage of the past. Reconciliation is indeed the new practice of the millennium and the world is busy balancing moral ledgers and advocating PCPBMs. Canadian government recently made a public apology backed by a hefty donation to its aboriginal people, as did the Australians. South Korea accepted Japan's written apology for the harms done during its 35 years of occupying in South Korea and both countries decided to move on. Perhaps the most striking example is of South Africa. Blacks of South Africa suffered a most cruel institutionalised legalised system of racial segregation known as Apartheid enforced by the National Party between 1948 and 1994. Apartheid legislation classified inhabitants into racial groups "black, white, coloured and Asian" and forcefully enforced this regime by ruthlessly crushing all resistance and protests with police brutality and systemised murders. A serious armed resistance struggle continued between the South African government (the whites) and the local blacks and other communities resulting in a loss of thousands of lives. Apartheid government resorted to killings wherever necessary, detentions without trial, torture, censorship and extreme repression and exiles. South African blacks were stripped of their citizenship and put into black reserves. The government segregated education, medical care and other public services with inferior standards and systematically designed their system so as to prepare blacks for lives as labouring class. Marital union between persons of different races was a crime. Eventually this most unnatural system collapsed and multi-racial elections were held in April 1994 in Africa leading to the government of blacks coming into power. Mandela became president. He and the people around him could have embarked upon a course of revenge. Instead South Africa embraced the whole idea of reconciliation. They set-up Truth Commissions under which if a person disclosed fully his or her crime and successfully argued that he or she did was in the service of a political end, whether or not justified, he or she would be granted amnesty. Indeed South Africa's experience has shown that reconciliation saved the country from utter violence. It proved, according to Charles Hauss that "through reconciliation and the related processes of restorative and/or transitional justice, parties to the dispute explore and overcome the pain brought on during the conflict and find ways to build trust and live cooperatively with each other." One common denominator to all approaches to reconciliation is that they are designed to lead men and women to change the way they think about their historical adversaries. Dozens of countries have found themselves in a situation of change and transition and from that have gone to elections, democracy and strengthening of the constitution. During this phase the key word is "reconciliation" when the gaps between all adversaries have to be bridged. It is not only a question of letting bygones be bygones but reconciliation is now all about avoiding extreme differences in power, opposition and means. It is time to tolerate and indeed try and close the past, and learn to live within grey shades during the time of this transition. Pain from the past which may still be encountered can be used as the driving force by means of which a country can realise its own improvement. Time and again Pakistan has witnessed breakdown of legal order because politicians have been unable to live with each other. Perhaps this is because all foes of the past and friends of today have still not truly reconciled with each other in letter and spirit and keep forgetting that they are leaders and must act as statesmen. Reconciliation does not mean that all politicians should become comrades. The kind of reconciliation I am talking about is fundamentally a process whose aim is to "lessen the sting of a tension: to make sense of injuries, new beliefs, and attitudes in the overall narrative context of a personal or national life." According to Susan Dwyer, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, "Reconciliation does not pretentiously masquerade as wiedergutmachung - making things good again...reconciliation conceptually independent of forgiveness." She suggests that when confronted with two apparently mutually inconsistent but individually plausible propositions, we often speak of the need to reconcile them, find a solution, and if no solution can be found, then to understand each others view with intelligence and coherence. She concludes that "divisions may need to be kept in view; the objective is to find a way to live with that." This is precisely what our leaders need to do at this stage. If position 'A' rules out position 'B', then so be it, take your stance but do not risk schism in the country. It is indeed true that reconciliation at the end of the day is about individuals and cannot be forced upon them. They have to decide on their own whether to reconcile on their one time adversaries. It is certainly amongst the most difficult things people are called upon to do emotionally. Our leaders however owe it to the nation. They may not, for example, for the time being be able to resolve the judicial crises but they should not end the process and open up hostilities. Apparently conflicting claims can be harmonised and compromised through the process of negotiation and mediation. I believe that in Pakistan the hostilities of the past are not as serious as they were, for example, in South Africa. The leadership can easily, while monitoring their various differences, continue to work together on those goals that are common. The overall package has to be looked at. There are many national and international issues faced by Pakistan including matters of control of terrorism, education, finance, military-civilian relationship, agriculture, food crises, health, inflation, foreign currency fluctuations, and law and order, among other things, and to the extent that there is reconciliation, all parties can work towards tackling the issues on which there is unanimity of decision. Obstinate and uncompromising attitudes from any side will destroy the achievements made through holding of free and fair elections. All that the people expect from our leaders today is not to be impatient for change. In the words of Mandela "We need to work for peaceful and more just future in pursuit of national unity." In most of the western countries it does not matter which political party comes into power. National policies continue in spite of differences in parties. In USA, Hillary and Obama are rivals in the same party and their contest is only strengthening democracy. If Pakistani leadership can accept reconciliation within themselves then politics will remain as stable as in the west and we as Pakistanis can use this as an example to expand the principles around the globe and use this to resolve issues between Muslims and Christians, Palestine and Israel and even in Chechnya and Kashmir. The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan E-mail: mnz@nexlinx.net.pk