THE widening gulf between the PPP and the PML-N seems more and more difficult to bridge. The two mainstream parties are now on the warpath. President Asif Zardari's diatribe against the Sharif brothers in a meeting with his parliamentarians was strongly rebuffed by Ch Nisar Ali Khan, who warned the President of a tit-for-tat response if he continued to indulge in mudslinging. "If a political blow comes from the Presidency then we will react accordingly," he said, while speaking on a point of order in the National Assembly on Monday, reminding Mr Zardari of the time when he had left the country with the dictator's blessing and spent four years abroad before striking a notorious deal with him to return home. Coming as it does, it was the harshest attack on the President who the other day took a dig at some politicians trying to champion the cause of democracy, regardless of the fact that they had left the country after seeking 'forgiveness' from the military ruler. Mian Nawaz Sharif meanwhile announced the parting of the ways with the PPP while reiterating his stance that his party would continue its struggle for the reinstatement of the deposed judges and the repeal of the 17th Amendment in accordance with the Charter of Democracy. There is no disputing his point that any deviation from these commitments would amount to betraying the public mandate. There may be some politics involved in this. But what might be giving him more offence are the indications of the attempts being made to destabilize the Punjab government. The President's pointman in the Punjab, Governor Salman Taseer, is being blamed for creating problems for a smooth functioning of the provincial government. He has not only been writing offensive letters to the Chief Minister, but was also seen patronising the district nazims accused of massive corruption. The Punjab PPP, now virtually a Governor's House auxiliary, in its emergency meeting on Monday, launched a scathing attack against the Shahbaz government and warned it that it would cease to exist the moment President Zardari so decided. The Punjab CM cannot escape the blame for violating the power-sharing arrangement, which required him to not only give agreed portfolios to the PPP ministers, but also empower the administration rather than running it through the bureaucracy. After all, the PML-N had held some of the choicest ministries in the Federal Cabinet before it decided to pull out of the government. At this stage when the country is facing serious threats to its sovereignty, both mainstream parties ought to resolve the conflicting issues through talks. It bears repeating to their leaderships that confrontation would not only accentuate political polarisation but also pave the way for those who might be desperate to derail democracy.