It appears that the NROed leadership of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) is being allowed to get away with its patently anti-democracy and anti-judiciary agenda. No serious effort seems to be underway to lay bare its democratic pretensions as political forces that are aligned with it seem to be caught up in a vortex of multi-directional surge, sapping their energy at scoring points rather than fighting a battle on the basis of principles on which may rest the future of a democratic Pakistan. It is a grave irony that all the voices being raised for putting General Musharraf on trial are emanating from the ex-servicemen group comprising of senior officers who have worked closely with him in various capacities and who would be aware of events like ordinary mortals would not be. What are the compulsions that have prompted this group, much against precedence, to raise a strong voice calling for the general's neck? And, what are the compulsions that are hindering the initiation of this process primarily because of the foot-dragging on the part of the leadership of the PPP? It makes for an interesting study of paradoxes While Musharraf may be apparently engaged in fighting the battle of his survival, it is the PPP that is ensuring him his supply of oxygen, much against the popular outcry. Odd that it may seem, the reasons are not difficult to fathom: the two are tied together in this intractable embrace of compromise that provides for the general to continue in power in exchange for granting the PPP leaders the reprieve from multiple criminal and graft cases registered against them, inside and outside Pakistan. The unholy marriage was consummated at the behest of the United States and its international allies in the so-called fight against terrorism with the exclusive intention of facilitating General Musharraf's stay in power so that they would be able to do with Pakistan as they pleased. Because of its own selfish agenda, the PPP is a willing partner in this corrupt arrangement. The constitutional package that has now been presented to the coalition partners for input has nothing by way of restoring the judiciary as on November 2, 2007. Instead, it talks of things mundane to complicate a simple matter that should have been resolved the day the prime minister made his inaugural address in the parliament. The significance of him not having done so was not lost on the pundits then, nor is it lost on them now. The sinister link between the restoration of the judiciary and the possible loss of the ill-gotten reprieve for the PPP leadership has been conspicuously paramount. It is this one prospect that has, so far, frustrated the will of an entire nation that wants to move swiftly to dismantle the remaining edifices of dictatorship from the country. Obviously, that does not suit the PPP and its leadership, not for the time being at least This can be clearly read into the purported move to grant part indemnification to the actions of General Musharraf, preceding November 3, to have the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) and its fruits fully secured for the PPP leadership. The tragedy is that all this is being done in the name of "democracy, dialogue, legality and constitutionality" There is none of this in the constitutional package, which is only a bargaining chip to win further time to sanctify the blessings of the NRO. The lies that had been fed to the nation in the last nine years are coming apart at an alarming pace by none other than those who have been the closest associates of General Musharraf. From the Kargil misadventure to the drama of the hijacking, every bit is falling in place to unfurl a criminal conspiracy to derail a democratically elected government by a dismissed chief of army staff. It was not only a move against the institution of democracy in the country; it was also mutiny against the army's lawful command that had been installed in place. The fact that he did so, and has got away with it for most of the last nine years, speaks volumes of the reasons why institutionalised governance has not been able to catch roots in this country. But, the silence has finally broken. Those who had sworn not to speak have spoken. They are the ones who are clamouring for a treason case to be registered against General Musharraf. They are calling for his open trial and impeachment. They do not favour a safe passage to be granted to him. They want an example to be made of him as deterrence against any future misadventures by other heady generals who may still be lurking out there. The dreaded institutional umbrella that is usually brandished as the ultimate saviour of military coup makers has come apart and there is nothing standing between General Musharraf and the initiation of an impartial trial to apportion responsibility for all his misadventures that plunged the country into untold trials and tribulations that may take years to undo. The case is outlandishly simple. There is no provision in it for a safe passage for General Musharraf and the PPP leadership should not stand in the way of justice being done to him, to those he targeted, and to the whole nation that has continued to suffer in its aftermath. In case the PPP fails to realise its historic moment and persists in filibustering on a simple issue through its devious set of constitutional amendments, it becomes the responsibility of the political and democratic forces of the country to unmask its real face for all to see. Let this gruesome compromise with the remnants of dictatorship not be enacted in the name of democracy because democracy would not uphold the dictate of one person. Let it not be enacted in the name of supremacy of the constitution because constitution does not envisage a shackled judiciary. Let it not be enacted in the name of rule of law as no law would overlook a carte blanch reprieve granted for serious crimes. Let it not be enacted in the name of "dialogue" as it would be an exercise for prolonging the night of oppression with no light at the end of the distressingly long tunnel. Let it not be enacted in the name of any other concoction as it would only be a ploy to delay the inevitable dawn of light that this country and its hapless people have been fighting for through most of the years of their so-called freedom. PPP has to come out clear: it either stands with forces of dictatorship and a safe passage for General Musharraf, or it stands with forces representing justice, democracy, and the rule of law. It can no longer be part of both. And if it persists in doing so, the democratic forces must act to unmask its ugly colours and it should be made to sit where it really belongs: in the lap of dictatorship. No make-ups No wrap-ups Email: