Azam Khalil Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is a temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship. - Lowell For once, the Pakistani politicians showed some political maturity and agreed on the draft prepared by the Constitutional Reforms Committee, especially for the 18th Constitutional Amendment. There were several ups and downs and political posturing during the sessions; however, the 28 member committee continued to work until finally they were able to arrive at a consensus that took into consideration the concerns and fears of all the provinces alike. The Reforms Committee reviewed nearly 100 articles that had been inserted into the constitution by General Ziaul Haq to perpetuate his rule, which was further de-shaped by Musharraf. In this lieu, the two major political parties of the country - Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslin League (N) - had signed an agreement named Charter of Democracy in which both the parties had agreed to restore the 'original glory of the 1973 constitution. However, when the first draft was prepared by the committee headed by Senator Raza Rabbani, a demand was made to evolve a new procedure for the appointment of judges to the superior judiciary. The PML-N also demanded that before the constitution was amended the prime minister should consult the chief justice of the Supreme Court regarding the procedure that had been agreed to by the committee for the appointment of judges. This decision came under criticism from some members of the committee. It was more surprising because Senator Ishaq Dar, a moderate PML-N leader had admitted only a few days earlier that the committee had achieved consensus on all the issues. And that he had the endorsement from his party leadership for going along with the decisions of the committee. Fortunately, after a few days and reacting to the message that was conveyed to the PML-N, by the media and other opinion makers, PML-N decided to endorse all the main points that had been agreed to by the committee members. It was expected that after this agreement the 18th Amendment will have a smooth sailing both in the National Assembly and the Senate; however, a few voices remained sceptical about the amendment being passed without much hassle. Nevertheless, the absence of PML-N leaders from the joint session of Parliament in which the bill for the amendment was placed and was addressed by the president, once again highlighted the mistrust that exists between PML-N and PPP. Perhaps, the message that Sharif tried to convey by staying away from the joint session of Parliament was that he was leading the anti-PPP forces, the rightists and the religious political parties who are otherwise opposed to the ideals for which PPP is known to have supported. This may be a smart move to win popular support keeping in view the coming local government elections and in the long run may be a good ploy to attract votes against its main political adversary that is PPP. Having said that and reverting back to the issue under review one can safely say that the passage of the 18th Amendment would no doubt result in the strengthening of democratic values in Pakistan. It must be understood that the establishment of democratic institutions in Pakistan is the only solution for all the problems that are being faced by this country. Once the supremacy of Parliament is established it would mean that finally the will of the people will prevail in this country. Once that happens the government of the day will have no choice, but to pay undiluted attention to the problems of the common man and try to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. The other important issue that will be resolved by the 18th Amendment is the settlement of the concurrent list that would transfer substantial amount of autonomy to the provinces which has been a longstanding demand, particularly by the provinces of Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan. This would mean that once the federating units are happy it would in fact strengthen the country and other issues like the building of dams, distribution of water resources and financial resources of the country will also be achieved in the same spirit that has been seen during the formulation of the recommendations for the 18th Amendment. One hopes that the political maturity shown by the politicians will continue and that they will understand that the strengthening of institutions is the best possible solution for the country and its people. And if they keep on moving in the right direction then the danger of martial law may disappear from the political horizon of Pakistan forever. In case the politicians revert to petty squabbles then the political institutions would remain weak, thus, allowing room for adventurism. It is, therefore, desirable that the recent boost received by the institution of democracy should continue in the foreseeable future so that the people of Pakistan become the rulers of their own destinies. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com