General Kayani’s welcome prescription that Pakistan’s redemption lies in democracy should be heeded with all the more attention given our chequered history replete with military takeovers. The General’s is not just rhetoric; he has practically demonstrated by confining the military to the barracks and not poking nose in the affairs of the civilian government. While it is heartening to see him express the resolve to adhere to its constitutional role, it is for the politicians to run the system that strengthens democracy and makes the spectre of military takeover disappear.

It is wishful thinking to assume that every COAS can be so democratic-minded. The politicians have to be wary of any future Bonapartist and that is only possible by pursuing the democratic path. Squabbling and self-seeking leaders working to the detriment of the national interests make a travesty of voters’ mandate and state institutions. By turning the country into an ill-piloted wreck, they make it easy for the army to take over the reins of power, which ends up making matters worse. General Kayani’s words that only democracy is the way forward is an acknowledgement of this fact. Sadly, the present setup hasn’t lived up to what was expected of it. To safeguard democracy makes it obligatory on the political parties to set their house in order.