Two seminal events, both occurring in 2007, have been responsible for shaping the scheme of things that was to take place in 2008. One, the lawyers' movement for the restoration of the deposed judiciary takes the credit for creating awareness among the public that time had come to stop President Musharraf playing havoc with the rule of law. It must have surprised the general to see the hordes of people issuing forth from every nook and corner of the country, terming his decision to lay off 60-odd superior court judges as entirely unconstitutional and demanding its cancellation. It seemed the whole country had woken up and, frustrated with the unfulfilled rosy promise of a better life by him, was crusading for the return of democracy. The march of events culminated in the promulgation of emergency, but vox populi had registered itself, and there was no other course open to the military-led government but to hold general elections. The retreat of the anti-democratic forces was a moment of exhilaration for the nation. As it ill luck would have it, a tragic incident, the second seminal event, was waiting to happen. The PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto, who was widely expected to head the government after the polls, was mercilessly gunned down, radically changing the political landscape and throwing up certain persons, most prominent being her husband Asif Ali Zardari, in power about whom there was not the wildest thought that they would make it there. Thus, Benazir's death not only garnered sympathy vote for the PPP but also left the people in a strange situation, uneasily guessing whether the new leadership would be able to deliver the goods. The general elections held in February 2008 were by and large free and fair, and the PPP, with its Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari holding the reins of the party, came out commanding the largest number of seats in the National Assembly and the PML (N) of Mian Nawaz Sharif came a close second. Although the PML (N) joined the coalition led by the PPP, their alliance did not last long; the split came almost as soon as their common goal of President Musharraf's ouster had been achieved. Differences over their joint commitments to restore the deposed judiciary and the constitution to its pre-October 1999 position appeared in sharper focus, when the PPP tried to renege on them and the PML (N) refused to compromise, pleading that the implementation of the Charter of Democracy and the Bhurban Declaration was a sine qua non for democracy to flourish. The return of the wrongly ousted judiciary, it rightly maintained, would give the right signal to the public and the rule of law would prevail. The two parties now, however, have an uneasy union at the Punjab level, indulging in blames and controversies and mindless of the damage their wrangling could do to the goal of securing the future of democracy in the country. As it is, the circumstances are indeed trying. Political uncertainties apart, there is the huge phantom of terrorism projecting itself ever deeper into the heartland of the country. To these two disquieting phenomena has been added the economic upheaval that has, in fact, engulfed the entire globe. The prices of oil and food items jacked up astronomically high, before it sharply came down, and created a crisis of dreadful proportion for the importing countries. The impact on the general public has been horrendous. It has upset the housewife's budget out of all reckoning and dragged even the middle classes down the poverty line, thus undoing the years' long effort to given them a taste of happier lives. Nevertheless, the outgoing year witnessed the end of more than eight years of military dictatorship, though the last vestige was to go a few months later, leaving the political leadership face to face with formidable challenges and without the excuse to blame a non-political factor for any wrong that they might commit. Unfortunately, its record so far has been anything but inspiring. The promise of the return to genuine parliamentary system remains a mirage as the 17th amendment and other distortions of the constitution continue to mock at the protagonists of democracy. While the government was found fumbling even as it was dealing with crises of broadly three kinds - political, economic and terrorist - a foreign threat in the form of India's unsubstantiated allegation and its "all-option-open" warning appeared on the horizon. New Delhi-leaning world powers, including the US, readily began trumpeting its cause, ignoring Islamabad's repeated calls that India provided credible evidence. In the global eye that already viewed Pakistan as the fountainhead of militancy, the blame for the Mumbai attacks stuck on elements in its side of the border. Demands issued forth from some capitals of quick and severe action on India's accusations, even though it refused point blank to furnish any evidence. Backed by the US, it acted like a dominant power in the region demanding to have the custody of persons it had named as suspects, and Pakistan's demand for proof of their involvement was dismissed. For a while, there was eerie fear of hostilities breaking out between the two nuclear neighbours. That fear has subsided but not vanished altogether. Islamabad's redeployment of its armed forces (20,000 out of 100,000 stationed near Pak-Afghan border) to the eastern frontier might give a sobering thought to the US about its fall-out on the war on terror to India about the consequences of a possible extension of Indo-Pakistan war beyond the conventional sphere. The peace loving people in the South Asian subcontinent as well as elsewhere in the world earnestly wish for sanity to prevail in the leaderships guiding the destiny of the two nations, Pakistan and India. E-mail: