GIVEN the highly turbulent phase democracy happens to be passing through, all eyes are on the meeting between President Zardari and PML-N Chief Mian Nawaz Sharif on Monday. What concerns the public is the leadership's role in manoeuvring the country out of the present quagmire. They are worried because rather than facing the challenges head-on, our political bigwigs, both in the government and the opposition, remain non-commital. The long and the short of it is that both the camps are going way off the mark. In case the meeting turns out to be nothing more than a tte--tte, questions over the leadership would be raised. On the one hand, this would ultimately lend credibility to the perception that the PML-N is losing sight of its agenda for democracy. Besides, there have been developments, which point to the fact that the party is assuming a lukewarm character. Its lack of enthusiasm on October 12 to mark the 1999 coup d'tat by General Musharraf, was nothing short of a shock for many. Likewise, its passiveness in the national legislature is still another cause for concern. Is this not a far cry from the role of the opposition, the party had played during the struggle for the restoration of judiciary? In this point of time, its disposition for a peaceful co-existence should be complimented. Yet it also appears Mian Nawaz Sharif, in an attempt not to turn the applecart, is attaching less importance to the urgency of rising to the occasion. President Zardari on the other hand has turned out to be a deeply ambitious man, unwilling to part with the levers of powers he holds in the form of the 17th amendment and Article 58(2)b. His position as a genuinely elected leader would not be accepted unless he curtails the presidential powers. One hopes the outcome of Monday's meeting would be in line with the popular opinion and wishes. We must remember that the country is in the eye of the storm right now. Taking this lightly would be a disservice to the nation. Last, but certainly not least, both the leaders must keep in mind the fact that their failure could mean the possibility of the off-stage players derailing the system.