The shouting match between the top leadership of PPP and PML-N has once again distracted us from the real and relevant issues of our time, creating polarisation at a time when consensus on national issues is required. They fight for pieces of the power-pie like street-children fight among themselves. Bereft of any political vision, they have no credible roadmap to steer the country out of its economic dependence and subjugation. Are we doomed to be oppressed by this democracy-circus or can we hope for a political leadership that understands its role and responsibility? The silver lining around last week's big dark cloud was Marvi Memon, who showed integrity and courage by resigning from her party that has joined the ruling coalition for petty gains, and from Parliament that has been reduced to an impotent gathering by the President. Two relevant issues figured in President Zardari's unpresidential utterings at Naudero: The civil-military equation and the conjoined twin-monsters of extremism and terrorism. But the manner in which he chose to talk about them made it obvious that he was only interested in using them to run down Nawaz Sharif and score partisan political points for his PPP, rather than defining a common ground for addressing them. Once again, he sounded more like a political worker than the President of Pakistan, the symbol of federation that he is supposed to be. This generated an equally immature response from Nawaz Sharif and his party stalwarts, stoking the fire of political upmanship and mudslinging between the two largest political parties in Parliament. Instead of a meaningful debate on vital national questions, we were witness to abusive name-calling and personal attacks that were jarring to the nerves. A level-headed political response to the lopsided civil-military relationship requires the major political parties to agree on some common principles and create formal channels of interaction between the security establishment and the civil government with a view to ensuring the former's participation in policymaking on security while establishing the supremacy of civilian leadership. Considering that the two parties had made some headway on this important matter when their leaders signed the Charter of Democracy (CoD), last week's no-holds-barred banter was disappointing to say the least. The CoD had already been practically violated by the two parties through clandestine deals and meetings with the military leadership, and due to the non-implementation of many other points included in it for strengthening democracy in the country, most important being the constitution of important national institutions like the National Accountability Bureau and Election Commission of Pakistan in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. Last week the Charter was conclusively buried. The two main contenders for political power are now back to square one, to the days of quasi-democracy under the Eighth Amendment before Musharraf: At each other's throat, undermining each other's democratic credentials and sincerity, competing behind closed doors to prove their loyalty to the armed forces, and clueless and unconcerned about solving the growing problems faced by the country and people they claim to represent. They'd fight viciously for political turf, rather than joining hands to deal with problems of democratic governance and other issues whose resolution would benefit the public and the polity, including their parties. But obviously, these so-called political leaders, and their political parties that are little more than conglomerates of opportunistic privilege-seeking individuals, are not interested in any meaningful politics. To them, politics is about grabbing power and keeping it, not for serving their country but for sponging it. Otherwise, how does one explain their complete lack of interest in political issues that really matter? How are the problems of terrorism solved by calling Nawaz Sharif a maulvi? Doesn't it amount to pushing him further away from the moderate stance that he'd been moving towards? Would it not have been more productive for the PPP to engage the PML-N and other political parties in devising a comprehensive counterterrorism national strategy that isolates extremist elements providing ideological support to the terrorists and their worldview? Even the religious parties have been put on the back foot for their tacit support to acts of terrorism in the country. Rather than blindly following the US-led military solution to the problem of terrorism, the PPP government could have contributed more positively by cementing the national consensus against violence and coercive tactics in the name of religion. What the President's name-calling did instead was to create an unnecessary divide. While the government has failed to formulate policies that could solve our problems, the opposition has failed to present us with viable alternatives. Under the present government, the energy crisis has worsened. But even more worrisome is the fact that an experienced national party like the PML-N, with two stints in power at the centre, does not have any solutions to offer either. The government does not have a plan to rescue the country from the stranglehold of the US and its international financial institutions, but neither does the PML-N. While the government lords over the subjugation of our agriculture sector to the interests of food cartels and unscrupulous companies peddling engineered seeds, chemical fertilisers and poisonous pesticides, the opposition has no plan to come to the rescue of hardworking farmers and their sustainable farming practices. And the list goes on and on. Against this backdrop of perverted partisan politics aimed at maximising perks, privileges and space for corruption, Marvi Memon's resignation is refreshing and inspires hope. During her tenure in the present Parliament, she came across as a sensible and sincere voice, well-informed and always ready to side with those at the receiving end of an elitist political structure. Obviously, she was a misfit in the supposedly august house that has lost its purpose and power, and in a government she does not respect. More than anything else, her resignation brings politics in its correct perspective: Politics is not about elitist sponging, but about serving the people and creating a just and prosperous future for those at the bottom of the heap. The writer is a freelance columnist.