LAHORE - The news about President Zardaris plan to call a roundtable conference on national issues was as unexpected as was the governments non-seriousness to solve peoples problems during the last three years. TV channels broke the news when tension was, apparently, high between the PPP and the PML-N leaders and Punjab Senior Minister Raja Riaz was due to hold talks with Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to discuss with him matters concerning implementation of the 19-point agenda given by him a few days ago. He had already declared that in case the agenda was not heeded to, the PPP ministers would hold a sit-in in front of the Punjab Assembly Secretariat. The same day, the PML-N top leaders were scheduled to meet in Islamabad to review the progress, if any, on their 10-point agenda announced by PML-N Quaid Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on January 4 for implementation by the Federal government in 45 days. The roundtable conference plan overshadowed most of the other news events during the day. The Presidents initiative, no matter how 'patriotic it looks to be, has also a darker side which cannot, and shouldnt, be ignored by the would-be invitees and participants. The roundtable conference decidedly, will undermine the importance and role of the Parliament. Almost all major parties have representation in both Houses of Parliament. And in the presence of a bicameral legislature, there is no justification for a roundtable conference. What the RTC invitees will discuss, can also be discussed by Parliament. The PPP, PML-N, PML-Q, MQM, PML-F, ANP, JUI-F, Jamaat-i-Islami, PPP(S), JWP, BNP (Awami), National Party and PKMAP have representatives in Parliament. The elected representatives are supposed to discuss the countrys problems and propose their solutions. And in case the present lawmakers are unable to discharge their obligations, they must be sent packing. Their performance is already quite disappointing as they have failed to come up to the expectations of their voters. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said it time and again that Parliament is sovereign. If so, what will be the justification for the govt to call an RTC? The other possibility is that the govt wants to isolate the PML-N and wriggle out of the timeline set by it for the implementation of its 10-points agenda. Suppose the RTC is held, the participants will discuss the problems facing the country. The issue of the release of Raymond Davis will also be taken up by the participants. Everyone will come up with a different set of problems and solutions. The declaration to be issued at the end of the moot will comprise the major demands made by the participants. And this will make the PML-Ns 10-points agenda and the deadline irrelevant. Thus its a very clever move by the President to outwit the PML-N. It will be better if the PPP gives the Parliament its due importance and let the elected representatives play their due role. However, in case it is still determined to go ahead and hold the RTC, the PML-N leaders could also try to turn tables on the rulers. They can decide to participate in the RTC but before doing so could convince all other parties about the importance of their 10-point agenda and its implementation within the deadline. In case all participants support the PML-Ns agenda from the RTCs platform, the government will have to face tremendous embarrassment. It will be left with no justification to use delaying tactics. It is also about time that the PPP and the PML-N should stop outwitting each other and the electorate. They are rivals and should act like rivals. The ally-rival-ally drama should come to an end. They know that they have to contest the next elections against each other. So they should part ways and let the electorate know which party did what to solve their problems.