In the coming days and months, a great battle for the soul of Pakistan will be fought on its streets when thousands of lawyers and the masses in their millions take on the forces of the status quo in a final push to establish the rule of law. Pakistan has erupted in anger and frustration in response to yet another snub of the people's mandate by the Supreme Court. On February 25, the Supreme Court declared the PML-N's extremely popular leaders, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, ineligible to contest elections. This move has reenergised the lawyers' movement. The Sharif brothers, who lead the party that finished second in the February 18, 2008 elections, were simply disposed of by the three-member bench of the Supreme Court. The two had recently announced they were joining the lawyers' movement in their efforts to reinstate former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who had been dismissed in 2007 by Pervez Musharraf for disobeying the military ruler on a number of issues. Nawaz Sharif reemerged as a key player in Pakistani politics after he returned from seven years in exile in Saudi Arabia in November 2007, and has been campaigning to reinstate the Supreme Court and High Court judges sacked by Musharraf when he declared emergency rule on November 3, 2007. His PML-N party refuses to recognise any judge appointed by Musharraf under the emergency. However, the incumbent leadership fears that if Chaudhry is reinstated, he could rule that Musharraf's reelection as president in 2007 was invalid and also try him for violating the constitution by declaring emergency rule in November that year. Chaudhry could then nullify the amnesty that Musharraf granted the late Benazir Bhutto and Zardari, which enabled them to return to Pakistan without fear of prosecution for charges of corruption. After the assassination of Bhutto on December 27, 2007, the PPP and the PML-N were the main winners of the parliamentary election, while Musharraf's political allies were trounced at the ballot box. Shahbaz Sharif, who was recognised as an able administrator during his time as chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan's biggest province, was dismissed by the same Supreme Court ruling. However, during his term in office, the people of Punjab heaved a collective sigh of relief after years of the previous provincial government's misrule, in which lawlessness and chaos prevailed. The lawyers are gearing up for a final push to establish true democracy in Pakistan - the cause championed by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who himself was a lawyer, during the country's liberation struggle. Unfortunately, when Jinnah died, only a year after Pakistan's independence, the leadership was usurped by corrupt bureaucrats, the predatory military establishment, and a gang of feudal politicians. And their ilk still rules, except for the fact that the generals, under the tutelage of new Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, returned to their barracks after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It seems that the lawyers are probably going to win this time since the masses are behind them, as well as the powerful independent media and a new breed of politicians - mostly self-made millionaires, industrialists, private entrepreneurs, and professionals - who have decided to abandon their mollycoddle approach and join the lawyers' movement in the struggle to establish the rule of law, democratic values, and good governance in Pakistan. The writer is a freelance columnist based in Tehran