IN an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Prime Minister Gilani has dilated on two crucial issues of both long-term and short-term relevance, which are reform and reconciliation. He promised to rectify the balance of power, upset by the Zia-era Article 58(2b) and the Musharraf-era 17th Amendment, by restoring to the Parliament the authority that had been taken away from it. He also said he would call on the PML(N) to rejoin the ruling coalition. When Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif signed the Charter of Democracy in May 2006, they accused military dictators of making a "mockery of the Constitution and representative institutions" and pledged that once in power they would restore "the 1973 Constitution as on 12 October 1999 before the military coup," and repeal the 17th Amendment. To remove any confusion about the powers of the Prime Minister it was clearly stated in the jointly signed document that the "appointment of the governors, three services chiefs and the CJCSC shall be made by the chief executive who is the Prime Minister, as per the 1973 Constitution." The promise to empower Parliament and make the Prime Minister the central figure in the system was in line with the concept of parliamentary democracy. The concentration of all power in the President turned the federal legislature into a rubberstamp, while it made the Cabinet powerless. As policies are hammered out by Parliament after thorough discussion in respective parliamentary committees, with inputs from important stakeholders and a subsequent debate in the two Houses of Parliament, they tend to reflect the collective wisdom of the nation. On the other hand, decisions taken by the President on the advice of a small group of cronies have often led to disastrous consequences. It is time Prime Minister Gilani retrieved the solemn pledge made by Benazir Bhutto to empower Parliament in line with the provisions of the Charter. Equally vital is the need to end the politics of confrontation, which has gone on too long and has created political instability. What is needed is to remove the causes behind the ongoing confrontation between the two mainstream parties, the foremost being Governor's rule in Punjab, which needs to be lifted urgently. By fulfilling the promise made by Ms Bhutto, the PPP can retrieve much of the moral high ground that it lost by opposing the restoration of the deposed judges. The two mainstream parties can jointly put the country back on rails. What remains a big question is whether Prime Minister Gilani will be able to garner the required support from the Cabinet and PPP parliamentarians.