Disgust with the present set-up has generated a clamour for change. The choice in change is not necessarily between good and bad. Rather, it can be between bad and worse. Sometimes, the campaigners and agents for the so-called change when in power can be the new face of darkness. Same mindset, same one-man show, same personality cult, same I-love-me approach, same half-baked ideas, same over-simplification, same cult of power, same encirclement by sycophants, same opulent lifestyle, same disdain for dissent, and same double standards. No wonder, rulers in Pakistan tend to have a sorry end. It is said: Be careful what you wish for; it may just come true. Indeed, the cruelty of the Tsar in Russia was followed by the brutality of Stalin, during the Soviet era. Ayub was a military autocrat. Director Shyam Benegal, in his acclaimed 1974 movie, Ankur, which portrayed the Indian caste system, showed that the traditional feudal elites were, in effect, more benign and less hypocritical than their modern educated progeny. When the British quit Uganda and left it to its own doings, the majority African black population, under the tyranny of Idi Amin, was far more ruthless on its Asian population, which was summarily expelled. Equally egregious after World War II was the treatment by the victorious American army, led by General Eisenhower, of German POWs, which led to death by starvation of thousands of defeated German soldiers. A controversial 1989 book, Other Losses, by Canadian writer, James Bacque, alleged that huge numbers of German prisoners of war held in internment camps after World War II, died, as a matter of deliberate policy, of starvation or exposure. The key is not to be seduced by seductive populist slogans, which mask hidden agendas. There is an old saying: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. It is an allusion to the ploy of using a wooden Trojan Horse as a gift to surreptitiously gain entry into a city, thereby capturing and ravaging it, as happened in the case of the city of Troy over 3,000 years ago. The distressed are more prone to be gullible and thereby more likely to be swayed and soothed by the lullaby of change. Therefore, no one person, one party, one family, or one institution should have a freehand - free from checks, balances, scrutiny, and accountability because, given half the chance, they will all act the same. It is embedded in the human condition. There are no easy answers, no overnight solutions, and no waving of the magic wand. Already, the virus of hate, greed, and paranoia has poisoned the pond. A strong culture of self-flagellation continues to thrive. The culture of constructive self-critique barely survives. Joined together, it blocks the path of self-correction. The challenge is to develop credible safeguards of checks and balances. Otherwise, tomorrows will be repetitions of yesterdays. Similar attitudes produce similar results. The writer is an attorney-at-law, writer, and policy analyst based in Washington DC. He is the first Pakistani American member admitted to the US Supreme Court Bar.