PRESIDENT Asif Zardari and PML(N) chief Mian Nawaz Sharif have made separate statements on the same subject, the powers of the President. The President made his statement to the consultative meeting he had summoned on the subject, while Mian Nawaz made his statement as he addressed the PML(N) UK. President Zardari had summoned the meeting to consider ways and means of returning the Constitution to its original 1973 shape. The President told the meeting that their party had promised the people that it would implement the Charter of Democracy, which involved the President being stripped of his powers. However, Mian Nawaz said the present government had turned the Prime Minister into a cipher, and demanded the implementation of the Charter. The question arises why Mian Nawaz should be so exercised about the Charter. It should be remembered that the 17th Amendment made sure that the bar on a third tenure as a chief executive, and thus on Mian Nawaz returning to the Prime Ministership, remained, as did the presidential power of dissolution under Article 58(2b). The Charter called for the Constitution to be returned to its original shape, including the abolition of these, and other, changes to the Constitution. President Zardari stands accused of changing the Prime Minister, whom he picked himself, into a cipher. This charge will not go away so long as he enjoys the wide range of powers which the 17th Amendment grant, to which he was elected, and which he has promised to abolish, returning the Presidency to that headship of state which it is supposed to be in a parliamentary democracy, and which was postulated by the 1973 Constitution. There are many who do not understand why the PPP, when it has the support of the main opposition party, the PML(N), on this issue, and thus has the needed two-thirds majorities in both Houses of Parliament, does not make the necessary constitutional amendment, which would remove the defacement brought about by a military dictator. The PPP originally made a commitment to parliamentary democracy when it, through its then Chairperson Benazir Bhutto, signed the Charter of Democracy. As a party which was thrown out of office twice by presidential dissolution, it should be the most concerned at abolishing the 17th Amendment, but so far, it does not seem interested in investing the time and energy needed to end those powers, understandably disturbing parties which do not have the Presidency, which is a powerful office under the present constitutional arrangement.