THE restoration of the deposed judges and the future of coalition government in Punjab were the two issues taken up by Prime Minister Yousaf Reza Gilani at a meeting of the Punjab PPP's parliamentary committee. Both issues have cast a shadow over the fortunes of the party in the province. The PPP high command's stand on the judges' restoration created dissensions within the party while it brought down its popularity graph particularly in Punjab, which was the storm centre of the lawyers' movement. Most of the pro-PPP lawyers lobbied openly for Mr Ali Ahmad Kurd, who subsequently won the elections as SCBA President from Lahore with a thumping majority. Prominent PPP dissidents were greeted wherever they spoke in the province in support of the deposed judges. That the judges' restoration took place only after Mian Nawaz led a massive protest march was considered a victory for the PML(N). The support extended by the masses to the PML(N) demoralized those in the Punjab PPP who considered that their opponents lacked the ability to launch a movement. That Mr Gilani had to argue the case in support of the executive order before Punjab party legislators indicates that there are still elements in his party who remain unconvinced over the decision to restore the judges. However, Mr Gilani also said that he was complimented by a number of party parliamentarians, which shows quite a few in the PPP rank and file were dissatisfied with the stand taken by the party leadership. The PPP is also divided over whether to go for a coalition with the PML(N) or sit on the opposition benches after Governor's rule has been lifted. The ill-advised Governor's rule put an end to whatever goodwill had existed between the two mainstream parties in Punjab while it failed to provide any advantage to the PPP. The wheeling dealing aimed at securing majority in Punjab Assembly, by buying the loyalties of the PML(N) MPAs or through Q-League support, miserably failed to achieve the goal. As Prime Minster Gilani has put it, the Governor's rule is undesirable and cannot be prolonged beyond the maximum limit of two months, as any extension is likely to be opposed by the majority in Parliament. With enough bad blood having been created between the two major parties on account of the imposition of the Governor's rule, there is little likelihood of their forming a coalition in days to come. As Mr Gilani has put it, sitting on the opposition benches in Punjab would not imply an end of the world for the PPP. The Governor's rule is an interim arrangement, which in any case is going to end within a few weeks. It would be unwise on the Governor's part to go beyond his role as a caretaker. It is beyond his mandate to take decisions on long-term projects or initiate policies that might not be endorsed by the administration which is to take over soon.