NEARLY a month after the court barred the Sharif brothers from contesting election that led to the removal of the Shahbaz Sharif government and imposition of Governor's rule in Punjab, the PPP and the PML(N) came in a direct contact with each other when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani met Mian Nawaz Sharif at his Raiwind Estate over lunch on Sunday. The political turmoil that exacerbated the existing polarization eventually subsided when the two mainstream parties agreed in principle to run the system on the basis of the Charter of Democracy. It was good to see Mr Gilani congratulate Mian Nawaz and the people of Pakistan on the role they played in the reinstatement of judges. "I have brought a message of goodwill from the federation and President Zardari. And I am grateful to Mian Nawaz for reciprocating to the sentiment," he said while talking to media after the meeting concluded. Mian Nawaz's tone was equally conciliatory. He congratulated the PM and President for restoring judiciary to November 2, 2007 status without mincing his words. Sceptics may try to pick holes in Mr Gilani's observation that whatever the court verdict on the review petition against the disqualification of the Sharif brothers everyone would accept it wholeheartedly. Perhaps that is what he could say about a sub judice matter. But he did not elaborate whether the matter would be taken up by the parliament in case of an adverse ruling of the court. He pointedly stated his opposition to the imposition of Governor's Rule and said that a party having majority in the Assembly would be invited to form government as soon as possible. The worst-case scenario for the PML(N) could be to have its government sans Mian Shahbaz. In that case the Sharif brothers would not have much to complain about in the wake of their repeated assertions that they would let President Zardari and the PPP complete their five-year term without demanding any share in power if they fulfilled their promise to restore the judiciary in accordance with the Murree Declaration. Mian Nawaz meanwhile reiterated his stated position that his party would not only extend fullest cooperation to the PPP government but also refrain from destabilizing it if the commitments made in the CoD were honoured. It is premature to say whether the PML(N) would rejoin the federal government without having the Punjab power set-up restored to pre-February 25 position. But the fact that reassurances from both mainstream parties have done little to contain the prevalent despondency among masses calls for immediate measures to establish the rule of law and good governance and addressing their economic woes. The road ahead would remain strewn with obstacles and challenges if they do not work together to strengthen democratic process in the country.