MUBASHIR HASSAN and Haq Nawaz LAHORE/ISLAMABAD - Coming on the heels of PPPs uneasy relationship with MQM over the issue of Sindh Governors replacement by a PPP man, the meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif, at latters Raiwind estate today, is being seen as an attempt at removing the prevalent mistrust between the two parties. Todays meeting between the two leaders is taking place on the request of President Asif Ali Zardari, who telephoned Nawaz Sharif on Monday and expressed his desire to meet him. The latter responded positively and the two leaders decided to meet over lunch to pick up the ends of the thread from where they had left. Political analysts, however, believe that expecting the two leaders to resolve all the contentious issues in one meeting would be like reading too much into the situation. 'The heads of two rival parties are meeting at a time when the PPP has not yet recovered from the aftershocks of 'Get-Punjab debacle and the restoration of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as Chief Justice of Pakistan alongwith other judges, commented a political expert on scheduled meeting between PPP and PML-N leaders. Interestingly enough, this would be the first meeting between President Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif in which the issue of judiciary would not come up under discussion for the obvious reason that deposed judges now stand restored as a result of historic long march on March 16, which was jointly led by Mian Nawaz Sharif and lawyers leader Ch Aitzaz Ahsan. Before this, the said issue remained at top of the agenda of all previous meetings between the two leaders. The top leaders of PPP and PML-N are meeting after a long gap of over eight months, as the last meeting between the two leaders was held in November 8 last year, at a family dinner held at the Presidency. But this encounter proved counter-productive and further soared the relations between the two sides, when President Zardari reportedly told Nawaz Sharif that March 9 agreement on restoration of judiciary was no Quran or Hadith that it should be implemented in any case. Since then, many efforts had been made in the past to arrange a meeting between the two, but every time Nawaz Sharif would turn down the request, saying that he did not believe in a meeting which ended up without any concrete results. Before November 8 meeting, the two leaders had met in Dubai on April 30, 2008 to sort out modalities regarding restoration of deposed judges. After coming to Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif held a news conference at his Raiwind residence and declared that judges would be restored on May 12. This announcement by PML-N chief irked the Presidency, which came out with its side of the story telling that no deadline in this regard had been agreed in Dubai meeting between the two sides. Consequently, the PML-N ministers quit the Federal Cabinet as per commitment with the nation. Another meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari was held on August 22 at Raiwind to resolve the issue of deposed judges, but it also remained inconclusive. After this, Nawaz Sharif also called on Asif Zardari on September 8 to congratulate him on his election as President, but it was just a courtesy call not lasting more than 15 minutes. In the preliminary meeting between the two leaders on Friday (today), senior leadership from both sides would be present. Punjab Chief Minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Adviser to Punjab CM, Pervaiz Rashid, Senior Adviser Zulfiqar Khosa and other senior leaders are expected to join the meeting from PML-N side, while PPP team may comprise Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, Partys Punjab President Rana Aftab, Senior Punjab Minister Raja Riaz and some other leaders. It would be followed by a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders who are expected to agree on some confidence building measures to be taken from both sides to overcome the prevailing mistrust between the two parties. No major breakthrough on any issue is expected in todays meeting as the two leaders are meeting in a political environment in which both have developed a sense of betrayal against each other. While Nawaz Sharif would be unhappy with Asif Zardari for not honouring his commitments on judges restoration and Constitutional amendments, the latter might express his resentment with the former for his partys undue criticism of Presidential ordinance on Petroleum Development Levy despite the fact that it supported the finance bill in National Assembly, which envisaged the increase in petroleum prices. Talking about agenda of todays meeting between two party heads, Nawaz Sharifs spokesperson, Pervaiz Rashid said they would pick up the threads from where they had left. He said that PML-N would stress the repeal of the 17th Amendment with special focus on clipping powers of the President under Article 58(2)(b) to dissolve National Assembly. The PML-N leaders, he added, would try to convince Zardari about the urgency of restoring the Constitution to its original shape by repealing 17th Amendment and implementation of Charter of Democracy (CoD). Pervaiz Rashid was of the firm belief that PPP and PML-N would not be able to address the most compelling issues of energy crisis, rehabilitation of IDPs and the law and order situation unless they agree to resolve the fundamental issues of Constitution. A PPP sources said that President Zardari would try to persuade the PML-N chief about striking a balance between the powers of Prime Minister and the President as the PML-N wants complete restoration of 1973 Constitution by giving all powers to the Prime Minister and the Parliament. Meanwhile, it has been learnt that President Zardari would chair a meeting of Punjab Cabinet in the evening at 6pm. Later, he would also attend a dinner reception hosted in honour of noted industrialists and elite of the City at Governors House. Report from Islamabad: Apart from discussing political and constitutional issues, President Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif are finally set to meet today to take PML-N on board on a possible crackdown on militants in some parts of the Punjab. Reliable sources privy to the matter, told TheNation that the President would urge the PML-N Quaid to support the federal governments move to flush the militants out of the Punjab, the largest federating unit of the country. A source, wishing not to be named, said Washington was pushing Islamabad to take action against the militants in Punjab after completion of military operation in Malakand and Swat. The southern parts of Punjab are the focus of the government but without seeking support from the PML-N leadership, the federal government may face hardships to carry out the plan. President Zardari, who is also the Co-Chairperson of PPP, also consulted his party leaders and representatives from Punjab regarding the said meeting with PML-N Quaid. However, official sources did not confirm any such consultative meeting in the Presidency on the subject. According to an official announcement issued by the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the President will be visiting Raiwind on Friday to meet PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif. On Monday evening President Zardari had telephoned Mian Nawaz Sharif and thanked him for his support to the internally displaced persons. During the tele talk they also agreed to meet soon. Commenting on the meeting, Spokesman for the President Farhatullah Babar said, The President believes that the doors of dialogue and negotiations must always be kept open in a democratic dispensation. The President has all along maintained that the country is faced with so varied and complex problems that no party or state institution can solve them single-handedly and it requires the collective endeavor of all political forces and state institutions, the spokesperson said. Dialogue and discussion among political forces are also necessary to strengthen democratic institutions and discourage undemocratic forces from exploiting and taking advantage of real or perceived differences between political parties and leaders. The President looks forward to a productive and useful meeting with the PML-N Quaid, Farhatullah Babar said. Punjab government also invited the President to address the provincial cabinet and senior civil servants during his daylong visit to the provincial metropolitan. The Provincial government will also brief the President on the developmental projects in the province.