Jalees Hazir Another round of bonhomie between the two largest parties in Parliament seems to have started with the acceptance of PML-Ns 10-point national agenda by Prime Minister Gilani and his PPP. This renewed willingness to work together for tackling national problems could lead to the much-needed political stability provided the two parties approach the agenda with sincerity of purpose. It goes to the credit of the PML-N that time and again it has acted with political maturity at critical junctures and played the part of a responsible opposition, even at the risk of being lumped together with an unpopular government. It is high time the ruling PPP covered its part of the distance. The well-considered 10-point national agenda announced by Mian Nawaz Sharif has been met with wide-ranging approval. The government spokespersons claim that its points were already high on their priority list. Leaders of other political parties have also accepted that the agenda addresses the most pertinent issues of governance facing the country today. At a time when politicians are coming under severe criticism for being inept, corrupt and uninterested in public welfare, the agenda provides a roadmap for democracys survival by linking governance to the expectations of the electorate. However, implementing the agenda points would require a massive readjustment in the way the PPP has been running the show so far. Going by the composition of the committee constituted by the Prime Minister to discuss the agenda points with PML-N and other political parties, it seems that the government is not ready for the much-needed readjustment. The inclusion of three corruption-tainted ministers in the committee leaves a bad taste in the mouth, especially when one of the main points of the agenda is controlling corruption and removing such people from public offices. One wonders why Babar Awan was considered suitable for the committee with his fake doctorate degree, dubious financial dealings and a penchant for spouting venom against the PML-N leadership. The inclusion of Raza Rabbani inspires hope, but the discussion could prove to be far more productive if he was assisted by a better PPP team. It is important to appreciate the context in which the PML-N announced the agenda and offered a life-line to a collapsing government that had lost its majority. Instead of becoming a part of the move to overthrow it, the party opted to cooperate with the government in sorting out the mess. In sharp contrast to the PPPs estranged allies fighting for parochial pieces of the power pie in clandestine meetings, the main opposition party made public a written document focussing on national issues and offering its help in addressing them. Given the pressures on the government and the relevance of the issues raised by the PML-N, the time is ripe for the two parties to work together for strengthening the system that both consider vital for Pakistans progress. The government has already withdrawn the increase in petroleum prices, one of the agendas demands. The need for developing a mechanism for controlling electricity and gas prices and loadshedding is also obvious. Along with devising measures to control the price hike, the government stands to gain a lot by addressing these issues of grave public concern. The PML-N is willing to share its ideas with the government and accept responsibility for the results. Similarly, reforming the public sector enterprises and recovery of loans written off on political basis, would bring dividends for the government that could be utilised for balancing its budget and development. Reduction of government size and expenses by 30 percent is also a much-needed and doable task that needs little more than political will. There are some potentially problematic areas though, and the ruling party might find it difficult to move on those points in order to protect its party head and the cronies under his wing. These pertain to the implementation of SC verdicts, including NRO, and transparent probes into the mega scandals involving public money. In a way, the strengthening of parliamentary committees might also be difficult for the government to implement, as it would mean the erosion of the informal power exercised by the President and his yesmen. And here, the largest political party of the country that claims to be the foremost champion of democracy must reconsider its priorities. Is it ready to stand up for the principles that it proclaims and by doing so reclaim at least some of its credibility, or will it continue to dance to the tune of individuals that have brought it to a sorry state? After all, was it not the assurance given to the American Ambassador by Asif Zardari that the Chief Justice would not be restored that pitted the PPP and its government against a popular demand and led to the parting of ways with the PML-N at the centre? Was President Zardari not responsible for the policy of reconciliation sans principles that tilted governance towards the sole goal of retaining power, and eventually brought it to near-collapse? Has the Presidents desire to protect his loyalists not impaired the governments efforts to perform and brought it a bad name? Surely, for democratic governance to take root and produce results, it is imperative that its basic norms and principles guide the policies of the government. The PML-N 10-point national agenda includes the reconstitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan and putting in place an impartial mechanism for accountability. These points were included in the Charter of Democracy as well, and the fact that the two parties are still only talking about these important reforms is a sad reflection of how the ruling PPP has conducted itself in office these past three years. It makes continuous noises about changing the system, but has bought into the status quo. It positions itself as the champion of democratic principles, but acts as a slave to the compulsions of power politics. It talks about the common man all the time, but is run by men and women who cannot see beyond their self-serving noses. It would be unfortunate if this latest overture by PML-N is given the shoddy treatment that has been meted out to other issues by the PPP. The writer is a freelance columnist.