It was tense, suspenseful and action-packed weekend if we include the events leading to the much-hyped Long March with political temperature continuing to rise and drop at least to the extent of TV channels. We watched all the decision-making forces back in action. They included not only country's political leadership but also the military top brass and foreign backers of Pakistan with a say in the decision-making process. The meetings between the Army Chief and President Zardari and then with Prime Minister Gilani were given special treatment. In the end it was revealed that these were routine meetings meant to upgrade preparation for long march. It was decided in these meetings that Army could be called in aid of the civil power as and when needed. The foreign diplomats were baffled to see on media two allies fighting after a great start that unfortunately turned out to be quite brief. Their only worry is that the looming political instability and infighting would distract the political and military leadership from the single-mindedness with which they are required to wage the War on Terror. Hence, we saw a person no less than Hillary Clinton intervening, calling both President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, in an attempt to knock some sense into the warring parties, especially Nawaz Sharif whom the Ms Clinton asked to show more flexibility. Nawaz Sharif is known for taking extreme position all along his political career. And once more he has taken a maximalist position vis--vis the Judges' issue. So far he is not ready to climb down despite mediation from the world powers. His stubbornness even worked in favour of the PPP leadership in the eyes of military and diplomatic enclave though it has its own share in worsening the situation. But all the seesaw game played out in the political arena has shredded the reputation of our political class which is so good at washing its dirty linen in the public. As the long march enters its final moments, we could see yet another vigorous effort seeking reconciliation between the PPP and PML (N) leaders. Taking part in these efforts are foreign powers having influence in Pakistan or stakes in this benighted country. These efforts are meant to nudge the two sides to a negotiated settlement giving a new hope to the people of Pakistan who are already feeling insecure as the political deadlock linger on and want to see its drop scene, sooner rather than later. President Zardari too is active these days. He made two significant proposals to diffuse the situation. First, the federal government has decided to file the review petition for Sharif brothers seeking the undoing of their disqualification to do politics or hold any public office. In another decision, it was decided by Zardari and Gilani that judge's issue would be resolved through Charter of Democracy. More significantly, a conference representing all parties is reportedly being convened to discuss and resolve the mega constitutional issues. It is difficult to predict at this stage if Shahbaz Government will be restored as a result of review petition. The PML (N)'s leadership in its initial reaction dubbed the new move as a part of gimmickry to confuse those leading the long march. To bring the PML (N) leaders back on the negotiation table, this time Prime Minister will play the lead role, if given the mandate to negotiate with other parties with Zardari pulling the strings from behind the scenes. In an interesting move, PML (Q) President Shujaat Hussain too came up with his own formula for a greater reconciliation in the country. He proposed that all the main parties should join hands to form government in the Punjab with power-sharing arrangements based upon their respective mandate. It will be quite interesting how Nawaz reacts to the PPP's new move and international effort to diffuse the tension in Pakistan. For any reconciliation efforts to bear fruits, both sides will have to come down from their maximalist position. But for the time being the Sharifs are determined to take the long march to its logical conclusion. E-mail: