IN properly functioning governments anywhere in the world, the well-known dictum that 'the cabinet speaks with one voice invariably holds good, and the Prime Minsters advice to Ministers that if any of them had a difference of opinion with the government he had better resign or fall in line with it is, on that principle, quite justified. However, it would be necessary to keep in mind another equally cardinal principle, in vogue in democratic set-ups, that has a positive bearing on the public good. It gives cabinet members the right to freely express their views, howsoever in clash with other members they might be, within the confines of the cabinet meetings. But once a decision has been arrived at, by majority after due deliberation, not only own it in public but also sincerely work to implement it. Or else, honourably quit. Although in his remarks Mr Gilani briefly referred to the federal cabinet members in the context of airing differing opinions, his focus, most likely, appears to be on the PPP Ministers in Punjab. Addressing a meeting of the provincial parliamentary committee at Lahore, on Saturday, he said that the PPP members ought to show tolerance while tackling political issues, asserting that it was his decision that they should not sit on the opposition benches in the Provincial Assembly. It is not uncommon for some PPP Ministers in the Punjab cabinet to publicly criticise the policies of the government of which they are a part. The people are left with no other choice but to deduce that the government was in disarray; certainly, it is not functioning according to the accepted norms; and the decisions it takes might or might not be put into effect. In the case of the centre, where there is a PPP-led coalition government composed of several political parties, the situation at times is quite baffling. Not only the cabinet members of some parties other than the PPP openly air criticism of PPPs policies, but the PPP Ministers themselves also are heard giving comments on important issues that are at variance with those of their PPP colleagues. In the backdrop of this scenario, the Prime Ministers remarks must be taken note of seriously by all concerned. The Ministers, to whichever parties they belong, should realise that if they choose to be part of the government, they have to conform to the basic code of governance. Pakistan at the moment is facing difficult challenges that call for the various political forces in the country to work together with the sole aim of keeping national interest above anything else.