THE meeting between President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday was a bit more than routine. They spent some time reviewing bills submitted by different political parties to repeal the 17th Amendment and agreed to support a consensus draft that may be brought before Parliament. Consensus building for constitutional reforms is doubtless important, but it remains a pipedream so long as political parties remain divided on how to approach the issue. The PPP, which has already circulated a 62-point proposed constitutional package, wants to achieve some sort of balance between the powers of president and prime minister while the PML(N) is interested in clipping the presidential powers tagged onto the Constitution during the Musharraf regime. The MQM seems concerned only about the issue of provincial autonomy. The PPP's decision to go for the consensus draft first, clearly indicates that it is only biding time before pushing its package through Parliament after the Senate elections due in March. This could help it amend the Constitution the way it wants. But then any move aimed at not completely restoring the Constitution to its original form would not only be in violation of the PPP's election manifesto, but would also adversely impact the democratic system. This would also strengthen the perception that while in power the PPP leadership is no less dictatorial than the military rulers, who are averse to allowing democratic institutions exercise their independence. If Musharraf was blamed for having turned Parliament into a rubber-stamp and excluding the PM and his cabinet from the decision-making process, his legacy seems to continue after the assumption of power by the current democratic dispensation. President Zardari is yet to fulfill the promise he made during his inaugural address at the joint session of Parliament about giving away the powers Musharraf had arrogated to himself under the 17th Amendment. It is disturbing to find a party, which does not tire of championing the cause of democracy, dragging its feet on almost every promise it had made before the elections. Mian Nawaz Sharif meanwhile made it clear to PM\\s Interior Adviser Rehman Malik in a meeting on Sunday that his party would not compromise on the reinstatement of the deposed judges, the repeal of the 17th Amendment and the Charter of Democracy. There is no disputing his assertion that reneging on the promises made with the people would damage the credibility of the democratic forces. But he also needs to understand that at this critical juncture, when the country is facing serious threats to its sovereignty, political leaders must shed their obduracy and work together to save the system from being destabilized.