LAHORE - The countrys politics entered a new phase on Friday when the PML-N severed its three-year unnatural relationship with its arch rival PPP and laid the foundation of a new setup in cooperation with the Unification Bloc of the PML-Q, or the dissidents of the party, that was launched by Gen Musharraf at the time of the 2002 polls. The step amounts to saying goodbye to the PPP ministers in Punjab, who have been clinging to their offices despite the PML-Ns repeated requests in the past to quit. A political commentator said the PML-N 'divorced the PPP after the latters reluctance to go for 'khula, or separation. The PPP leadership, in a rather mild reaction, declared that the party would play the role of a constructive opposition, and would not do anything that could bring back the bitter era of 1988-99, known for the worst ever confrontation between the two rivals. The party, however, criticized the PML-N for banking on PML-Q dissidents (branded as a bunch of turncoats by the federal law minister) to ensure majoritys support for Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. He said that in the presence of a Defection Clause, the PML-N should not take turncoats along, as the move is against the spirit of the law. It is premature to say anything at this stage about the shape of things to come. But, apparently, the situation is unlikely to remain peaceful. The PPP will try its best to let the chief minister know the difference between the role it played as a coalition partner and the one which it is destined to play now as an opposition party. While the country needs a clean and principled politics, its not in the view for the time. Principles demand that the party desirous of forming its government should talk to other parties to seek their support. Turncoats should not be encouraged by anyone, or it would be a bad tradition. But the problem is that the PML-Q had set the bad precedent in Punjab during the 2002-07. Many PML-N legislators had been lured to then ruling party PML-Q fold despite the fact that it had more than a two-thirds majority in the house. And when the N leadership moved references against them, the then speaker refused to forward them to the Election Commission. And whenever the then chief minister was asked about the justification for bringing PML-N people to the PML-Q fold, he always said those being called turncoats had in fact returned to their own party. No law is violated, he used to argue, if a Muslim Leaguer comes back to his parent party. Incidentally, the PML-Q is now going to experience the same situation. They call the Unification Bloc as a group of turncoats, but PML-N leadership says they have come back to their parent party. It was perhaps for such situations that somebody had said: As you sow, so shall you reap. Had the issue of defection been settled then, nobody would have dared seek cooperation from turncoats. It appears that the issue will not go unnoticed in the presence of a governor, who is a known constitutional lawyer. Only a few days after taking over as the constitutional head of Punjab, he had told this newspaper that the Unification Bloc would be violating the law by supporting the PML-N. His opinion on this subject is important at the time because he was saying it time and again that he had personal relations with the Sharifs and that the two parties would work smoothly in his presence. But now that the two parties have split up, he would not stay as a silent spectator and leave everything to the mercy of circumstances. He might call upon the chief minister to prove his majority in the house, a situation in which the PML-Q dissidents would have to stand and be counted with their new boss. And this will be the time when the PML-Q leadership would get an opportunity to move disqualification references against the 'defectors. The changed situation is expected to bring the PPP and the PML-Q closer to each other. Already, there is an understanding between the PPP leadership and the Chaudhrys on mutual cooperation. The reservations between the two sides had disappeared when Law Minister Babar Awan and Prime Minister Gilani separately visited the Chaudhrys to elicit their support. It is because of resistance offered by some important PML-Q leaders that despite the inclination of the Chaudhrys the two parties did not go for a coalition when the MQM had withdrawn their support from the PPP. But now the situation has taken another turn. Both the parties have a common political enemy in the PML-N. They will work together. It is also expected that new political alignments will start taking shape in the near future. The PPP will have to choose new allies, and so will the PML-N. In case the two parties seriously play the role of opposition in their respective spheres, the federal and the Punjab governments will have to deliver. And this will be in the interest of the country and the people. The opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Zaheeruddin- is going to the immediate casualty of the changed situation. If until now he was being challenged by Dr Tahir Ali Javed, the head of the Unification Bloc, he is now likely to be replaced by PPPs Raja Riaz. Some senior political leaders are of the opinion that political temperature is likely to go up in the near future which may make fresh elections unavoidable. They also fear that reckless moves by political parties could pose a threat to the very democratic system.