Perhaps one of the peculiarities of the PPP politics was its tendency to ditch its coalition partners while in power. But lately its leadership seems to have realised that the ill from which the party suffered has to be cured to prevent the system from destabilisation. President Asif Ali Zardari did well by refusing to lend an ear to the treacherous elements in the party who were desperate to overthrow the PML-N's Punjab government in a bid to gain absolute control of power. Maybe some saner counsel helped him realise that with friends like Governor Salman Taseer he needed no enemies. It was no use depriving the country's largest province of an able leadership and handing it over to the likes of Raja Riaz whose only claim to fame was his habit of badmouthing political rivals or his infinite capacity for leisurely amusements. One has to be a sceptic to dispute Mian Shahbaz Sharif's devotion to the rule of law and good governance. Comparing his government's five-month performance to that of a protracted misrule of the Gujrati mafia there is at least one striking difference: Patronising corruption was the top priority of the previous regime; it no longer is on the official agenda. There has been a paradigm shift in the style of governance. It is not just about making roads and building infrastructure but more about giving respite to the masses suffering from abject poverty, rising inflation, lawlessness and unemployment. Mian Shahbaz does not admire an activity unless it shows any sign of mitigating public miseries. The way he tackled the flour crisis is a case in point. It may be wrong to blame him for making three Provincial Food Secretaries scapegoats one after the other. These guys had failed to effectively meet the biggest challenge facing the government so far. But then he will have to do some explaining for retaining an equally incompetent food minister. It was a case of political expediency overtaking principles. Mian Shahbaz's aversion for 'turncoats' is known to all and sundry but he couldn't help abandoning his trusted aide Inamullah Niazi and embracing Niwanis of Bhakkar when it came to bolstering his party's strength in the Punjab Assembly. The same logic was at work when a senior police officer related to the Chaudhrys of Gujrat and hardly known for any virtue was given a lucrative posting after he promised to fetch two MPAs from Sargodha to vote for Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui. Ridiculous. Two Punjab Assembly members do not even make a single vote in the presidential election But that's that. There are no more compromises, no more departures from the promised public welfare policies. Mian Shahbaz's reaction to any issue is to inquire what would be beneficial for the people rather than what would be popular. Perhaps he understands that great leaders history remembers were those who did not mind taking unpopular decision for the larger good of their nations. One big advantage he has over his predecessors is the people's confidence that his actions are not dictated by his desire to increase his fortunes. If there is a doctrine suggesting that an able and public-spirited leader must be a hypocrite in order to succeed in politics it runs counter to Mian Shahbaz's style of governance. The doctrine he pursues is based on the simple principle of bringing transparency to the functioning of the government as well as eliminating social injustices. This could be done by doing away with distrust between the rulers and their subjects and giving the masses access to the authorities which could provide them relief from the excesses committed against them. Those who have been picking holes in the appointment of Javed Mehmood as Chief Secretary Punjab cannot deny him the credit for turning the otherwise ferocious bureaucrats into public servants in a true sense of the word. The dream team Mian Shahbaz has managed to raise would not have been in place had the incumbent chief secretary not taken pains to pick up best officers to run the administration. Mian Shahbaz knew that the he needed a vibrant administrative machinery, different from the one scrambling for power, to revamp the system he has inherited in which the poor were denied their right to education, healthcare as well as other basic needs of life. Then there has to be an effective law enforcement apparatus to rein in those harbouring criminals, to purge Gujrat of the Wajahat Force and to bust other such organised gangs operating elsewhere in the province. The decision by the PPP and PML-N leaderships to stop antagonising each other and adhere to the agreed power-sharing agreement is welcome. But if it means giving 40 percent share to the PPP in the appointment of DPOs, DCOs and other administrative officers then it will be tantamount to dealing a deathblow to the carefully built administrative structure. Mian Shahbaz will be well within his right not to reconcile with any such idea. Why should he let anyone diminish his penchant for good governance? E-mail: sarmad@nation.com.pk