Our erstwhile politicians make us believe that democracy alone is the recipe to cure all evils in our society. Many envy the phenomenal economic progress in the neighbouring India that they attribute to the uninterrupted practice of parliamentary democracy since independence (except a brief period of emergency rule) and hold the periodic hijacking of democracy by the Generals responsible for the below potential performance of our country. Democracy was restored in its most vibrant form once again in Pakistan after the 2008 elections. For this, the exiled leaders and their associates returned to the national scene due to the despised NRO clandestinely negotiated and promulgated by the uniformed President, who relinquished both his positions in a smooth transition. An environment of tremendous goodwill prevailed all around. However, more than three years down the line, the democratic governments at the centre and in the provinces have not been able to win the hearts and minds of the people and their performance has not justified their ascent to power. A comparison with India, from which we separated in 1947, is imminent. Both nations have been ruled since independence by dynasties that exploited their political and administrative authority, as instruments to amass personal fortunes, while the vast majority of common people remain below the poverty line with little access to civic amenities, education or welfare. Neither country established an effective, impartial and unbiased system of accountability. Justice system is costly and is infested with delays and graft. The menace of militancy, ethnic rivalries, provincialism and poor law and order has been beyond control. Bureaucratic inefficiency and financial corruption are rampant at all levels of the government. Yet, India has registered a consistent growth of over 8 percent during the last two decades, has a strong currency, vibrant industry, trade and technology. It is courted by all the developed nations for its huge market of 1.2 billion people and is emerging as a regional economic power. Pakistan today, on the other hand, has a strong defence but an economy on the verge of bankruptcy and a society in disarray. Industrial growth and productivity have been dismal during the last few decades with the recent additional constraint of the scarcity of gas and electricity. The agriculture survives on subsidies and tax exemptions and is likely to be hit further, as the large fertiliser plants will reduce production due to the non-availability of gas. The nation has become a pariah with a perpetual begging bowl, forever looking towards others for a bailout. The Indian leaders had a blue print ready at the time of independence. They lost no time in embarking on sweeping land reforms that broke the back and influence of the lords, providing relatively freer opportunity for common people to elect their representatives. They pursued an independent foreign policy and looked inwards for the initial four decades that protected and provided a platform for its commerce and industry to consolidate its strengths. Their people rose to the challenge and diligently developed their antiquated industrial and commercial infrastructure inherited at the time of independence. Our leaders, on the other hand, were overwhelmed at the swiftness of being handed over the control of 70 million people. A large influx of refugees had to be rehabilitated. Pakistan was cash-strapped, without any organisational structure, industry or commerce, but with a developed irrigation system and fertile lands generating a surplus in food. Its people were filled with pride and passion for the infant ideological state and quickly surmounted the initial difficulties. Pakistan looked for assistance from the West that was forthcoming. By 1969, it had registered an impressive industrial growth by installing modern machinery and had become the envy of the South Asian states like South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia and was the leader in the Islamic world. A military-backed government had implemented visionary and forward-looking economic and social policies, but had suppressed the voice of the people. In 1971, the eastern wing broke away and we have still not been able to put the pieces together. Successive governments have relied on short-term tactics for immediate superficial gains, instead of making sacrifices to devise and implement long-term strategies aimed to establish solid footings for the following generations. We have remained entangled in the slavish foreign policy. The addiction to foreign assistance has robbed us of our initiatives. Entrepreneurship is neither encouraged nor is adequately rewarded. Surrender to the uncontrolled spread of arms has made the entire country unsafe to live in with the disastrous consequence of the flight of capital and talent from the country and has also scared foreign direct investment. The present democratic governments are practicing a politics of the status quo skilfully manoeuvred in the garb of national reconciliation to plod along without any real governance, vision or expediency to build the nation. The deteriorating social and economic indicators are quite apparent as are the solutions. There is no one to take the bull by the horn. The Assemblies are mere debating societies with a mandate to sign on the dotted lines, contended to make merry with their perks and influence. The charges of corruption are breezily dismissed, as conspiracies and sensitive issues are allowed to linger on with the hope to lose steam with time. The politicians are waving all kinds of cards like the Sindh card, the Punjabi, Pakhtun, Balochi or Karachi and lately the Seraiki card. No one seems interested in waving the Pakistan card. The Indian politics is also riddled with corruption like the financial scam in the telecom industry that involved the Ambanis of the Reliance Group in collaboration with government functionaries, adulteration in food items, money laundering and kickbacks in defence and other contracts. But the glaring contrast between the two countries is in the attitude of people. Both countries started with the export of cotton textiles and manpower to the Middle East and the Western world. The Indians branched out into high-tech industries and inventions, expanding the base of their upwardly mobile middle class. Meanwhile, Pakistan has lagged behind in research, development and manufacturing, even the basic engineering components essential to gain an edge in industrial competition. Even Bangladesh has overtaken us in the export of finished textile products although we are the fourth largest cotton producing country in the world. Their expatriates invested heavily in commercial and industrial ventures in their own country generating international industrial empires. Our political and business leaders alike relish in undeserved ostentation, avoid paying due taxes by falsifying statements with impunity and prefer to stack their immense wealth, earned indigenously mostly by misuse of authority and government subsidies, in unproductive foreign bank accounts and overseas properties. Thus, we cannot expect anything different from the scions of a few omnipresent privileged families, most of whom are politicians by profession and not by conviction. They are ever ready to be a part of any form of government as long as it is ruling. What we need is a revolution in the attitude of the people. The competent and sincere among us must come forward with fresh solutions to problems and replace the present crop of politicians. If we do not free ourselves of this network that has failed us several times over, our despondency will keep growing and the future will bring no good omens. The writer is an engineer and an entrepreneur.