WHILE the PPP and PML(N) brace themselves for what looks like a fight to the finish, what seems to be forgotten are the consequences of the unseemly struggle. Within a day of Prime Minister Yousaf Reza Gilani's assurance to the media that his government has no intention of destabilising the Punjab administration, Governor's rule was imposed, ignoring the option of calling the Provincial Assembly to elect a new CM. President Asif Zardari has now made it known that he wants a PPP government in the Punjab after Mian Nawaz's attacks on the Presidency. To gain the support of district nazims, the President has restored their funds and authorities, and extended the tenure of the local bodies for another six months. A largescale bureaucratic reshuffle is under way in the Punjab to enable the PPP government, according to the opposition, to suppress protests and facilitate horsetrading. On Friday, 16 lawyers, many known for strong PPP inclinations, were appointed judges of the LHC. In a coincidence that can only help the PPP, the Punjab Assembly Secretary suspended by Mian Shahbaz for closeness to the Chaudhrys has been restored by the Supreme Court. Senior Minister Raja Riaz has called on PML(N) legislators who might be unhappy with their leadership, to join the government about to be formed, to serve the country. Talks are going on with the PML(Q), that was nicknamed Qatil League by President Zardari not too long ago. The party is weighing the course of action most suitable to it, meanwhile raising its bargaining position. On his part, Mian Nawaz Sharif is trying to turn the struggle into an all-out war, burning all bridges in the process. While he is within his rights to approach the PML(Q) Forward Block and Functional League legislators for support, some of his fiery statements could close all doors for reconciliation. He has directed Mian Shahbaz to act as the legal chief minister and called on civil servants to defy any illegal orders of the Governor. He has also ruled out any talks with President Zardari, who he maintains has deceived him and stabbed him in the back. He has again started referring to the well-known corruption charges and huge funds stacked away in Swiss banks. As the struggle gets personalized, the chances of reconciliation become dim. There is a need on the part of both sides to realize that upping the ante is extremely harmful for the country. Leaders like Asfandyar Wali have to step in to avert the looming knockout fight. President Zardari who holds a major stake in the system, alone holds the key to the resolution of the standoff which is getting nastier by the day. He should urgently consider lifting the Governor's rule and seeking the reversal of the verdict against the Sharif brothers through Parliament. Meanwhile, Mian Nawaz should stop his high-falutin rhetoric, refrain from personalizing the struggle and control those who are resorting to violence.