PRIME Minister Gilani whose earlier pronouncements had created the perception that the restoration of judges was only a matter of days has now said that he could not give any deadline for their return to their chambers. This would dampen whatever hopes had been created by his statement on Wednesday that with the resignation of the former President, a major obstacle had been removed and the reinstatement was only a matter of days. The frequency at which the PPP leadership has made promises only to go back on them would strengthen the perception among many that it would be futile to lend credence to its undertakings anymore. Among other things, this seems to have put a seal on the break-up between the PPP and the PML-N. Mr Gilani has indicated that the resignations of the PML-N ministers will be accepted soon and the MQM inducted in the federal cabinet. Attempts being made by the PPP leadership to woo the PML-Q also are likely to bring a party into the ruling coalition, which had for five years acted as the lynchpin in the system that provided General Musharraf political backing. While this would provide the PPP the support it needs in the Parliament after break-up with the PML-N, it is open to question if association with it would improve the PPP's rating, which has nosedived as brought out by successive opinion surveys. There are signs that in Punjab the marriage between the PPP and the PML-N is already on the rocks. The PPP has stopped its ministers from attending their offices or meeting the Chief Minister. On Friday Mr Manzoor Wattoo who is supposedly masterminding the attempts to install a PPP-led government in the province held a lengthy meeting with Governor Salman Taseer. The PML-N is also no longer keen either to preserve the alliance in the province. Mr Zardari has reportedly been conveyed that in view of the break-up of the alliance at the centre it would be desirable for the PPP ministers to voluntarily resign from the provincial cabinet failing which the Chief Minister would be forced to notify their dismissal. Soon after the elections hopes were roused that the alliance between the two major parties would generate a synergy that would pull the country out of the morass where it had been left by the administration presided over by General Musharraf. Further, that it would improve the people's lot, provide them security and lay down the basis for a strong democracy. The break-up between the PPP and the PML-N within days of former President Musharraf's resignation has put these hopes to rest. While some might blame Mian Nawaz Sharif for lack of flexibility, an overwhelming majority points fingers at the PPP being responsible for losing the historic opportunity by making highly questionable choices.