A question that has occupied the minds of our concerned citizens is: what is the Pakistan Peoples Party up to? After two and a half years of heading a legitimately elected coalition in the centre and partnering in the governance of all the four provinces, the largest political party of the country appears to be sinking deeper into an uneasy opposition syndrome with the major institutions of the country, with which it should have a comfortable working relationship. Who could have imagined prior to December 2007 that Asif Ali Zardari, incarcerated for about eight years in various prisons country, would step into the shoes of his late wife, emerge as the undisputed leader and inherit the allegiance of the workers and the leaders of a party that has flourished under the Bhutto name during the last 40 years. Released by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf under a compromise formula, Mr Zardari chose to live in New York as a private individual, marginalised from the mainstream politics of the Peoples Party. Then he was summoned to Dubai and assigned to baby sit their two daughters and the ailing mother-in-law, when Ms Benazir Bhutto (BB) set aside President Musharrafs warnings of danger to her personal safety and decided to return to Pakistan on October 18, 2007. Buoyant by the tumultuous welcome the people had accorded upon her arrival in Karachi, BB embarked on a mass contact spree that she adored, culminating in a rousing address in front of a cheering mammoth crowd in Liaqat Bagh, Rawalpindi, on the fateful day of December 27, 2007. As her entourage was about to leave the venue at the conclusion of the rally, she rose from the hatch of her jeep to greet and wave to her supporters, making herself a target for a strategically positioned marksman to take a fatal shot. Bomb explosions, exchange of fire and utter chaos followed. Fifty-four year old BB was declared dead on arrival at the district hospital. As the news of the well planned and executed tragic assassination of his wife was flashed on television, Mr Zardari chartered a flight from Dubai and arrived in Islamabad along with his daughters to take charge of the mortal remains of the leader and later of her party. Mr Zardari surprised everyone with his political acumen. It is no small wonder that he managed to keep the party together in the aftermath of the loss of such a charismatic and unique leader as Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. He breezily accomplished a universal acceptance for the position of the co-chairman and expeditiously developed a consensus among the party members to consolidate all powers in himself. The minor resistance from a few old stalwarts was easily surmounted. He led from the front during the general elections held on February 18, 2008. Though Peoples Party fell short of a majority in the National Assembly with a tally of 124 out of a total of 342 (36.2 percent) seats, it emerged as the largest single and only national political party with representation in all provinces. He exercised a policy of reconciliation and manoeuvred skilfully to forge alliances with other major political parties represented in the assemblies, gained almost absolute control at the centre and major partnership in all provincial governments. He had crafted a window of opportunity brick by brick that could obliterate the dark patches of his past due to the prevalent favourable environment of enormous public sympathy and across-the-board goodwill for the widower and for the party he was unanimously chosen to co-chair with his son. A leader was reborn to lead the people of this country to a bright future under the umbrella of democracy and to rightfully assume the mantle that was treacherously snatched from BB. There must be something terrible that our nation has committed to be condemned to the (metaphorical) wrath of gods. Why else would the Pakistani people be pushed into despair no sooner than they get filled with hope and optimism with every regime change? Yet once again, the hard-earned return to democracy appears to be living up to prove such a curse surrounds us. The process of reconciliation received its first jolt, as PML-N walked out of the coalition at the centre under protest. The co-chairman and now the elected President of Pakistan had repeatedly failed to meet the agreed deadlines to restore the judiciary. The PPP appeared possessed with a self-imposed paranoia of the presumed hostility of the superior judiciary, in addition to being threatened by the popularity and influence of PML-N in Punjab. The course of the PPP, thus, altered from reconciliation to confrontation both with the judiciary and the PML-N that has now grown perilously close to destabilising the democratic dispensation. The President held the restoration of judiciary in abeyance until the lawyers, civil society and rival political parties took to the streets in a 'long march. The Chief of Army Staff had to intervene under fears of terrorists taking advantage of a breakdown of law and order and a possible civil war. The half-baked attempts to disqualify the Sharif brothers, declaration of emergency and imposition of Governor Rule in Punjab could not be sustained and were declared inadmissible by the courts that restored the PML-N led government. Another setback for the PPP came with the coalition partners withdrawing support for the ratification of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that could not be tabled in the National Assembly. The NRO has transformed into a major point of confrontation between the higher judiciary and the PPP that haunts numerous beneficiaries, on top of which appears the name of the President himself. The battle of personal survival has, thus, taken precedence over all other affairs of the state where economy, law and order and public welfare have been pushed to the backburner. The state of our economy continues its rapid nosedive due to non-serious, incompetent and unprofessional handling. The excuse of inheriting Americas Afghan war, religious fundamentalism, terrorism and a fragile economy has lost its validity, as there has been little evidence of any reversal of the old policies or the introduction of bold measures to mobilise the common people to participate in nation building. The personal welfare and safety of the common man that is a slogan of the PPP has remained exactly that. Scandals of nepotism are routinely unearthed by the fiercely independent media, reporting positions of authority in public sector organisations being filled by undeserving and unqualified friends or relatives with tainted reputations. The governments response even to the devastating 2010 floods that rendered two million people homeless was delayed and indifferent. The President preferred not to disrupt his European tour than to be with his people in time of distress, as a gesture of solidarity. More so, influential politicians were accused of diverting the course of floodwater causing damage to adjacent poorer areas in order to save their crops and properties. During this time of a national calamity, the upper hierarchy remained engaged in opening new fronts and devising frivolous controversies, in a display of business as usual. The gloomy national mood has overshadowed the major legislative accomplishments of the present government such as the Eighteenth Amendment and the NFC Award. All is not yet lost. The rulers have withstood the storms and are only halfway through their five-year term. They must reflect on their experiences, the merits of reconciliation and the grave consequences of confrontation. They still have time to prove that this nation is blessed and not condemned. The writer is an engineer and an entrepreneur. Email: k.a.k786@hotmail.com