Viewed from any perspective, PM Yousuf Raza Gilani's address at National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad could not be more timely, delivered at a better place and directed to more relevant audience. His speech is a political discourse on the emerging paradigm of civil-military relations in Pakistan following the Feb 18 elections. For this purpose he chose the right venue-NDU, which is the premier and most prestigious institution for training our senior military officers in the fields of war, strategy, diplomacy and politics. In a very candid but sincere remarks he made it clear that while the new government would like to leave the past behind it, it would draw the necessary lessons from the previous unfortunate and wrong practices so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated in the future. This is why he specifically mentioned the reasons why Pakistan today is beset with problems like religious intolerance, ethnic conflict, regional antagonism, extremism, sectarianism and terrorism. The root cause of these internal and external challenges lies in our inability to respect the constitution, failure to uphold the supremacy of the parliament, inability to strengthen the national institutions, the inability to promote democratic norms in the society and the inability to ensure rule of law, independence of judiciary and a responsible free media in Pakistan. Respect for the constitution and rule of law is the first and most essential condition for a civilised life and sustenance of politico-legal institution called state. More than two thousand and five hundred years ago, the famous Greek philosopher Plato said: "Man when perfected is best of animals but separated from law is worst than beasts." Nothing more than this statement can explain the vital importance of the rule of law. The emphasis on respect for the constitution and upholding the rule of law is, therefore, a reflection of the wisdom accumulated by mankind over centuries through the collective experience of the people. It is the constitution, which provides a tangible form to a myth known as state; violation of the constitution, therefore, is an attack on the very basis of a state. Although Pakistan's political history is interspersed with frequent martial laws and military interventions, we are fortunate that these aberrations have not been able to shake or undermine nation's trust and consensus on three basic structures of our political system-federalism, parliamentary democracy and independence of judiciary. Time and again the people of Pakistan belonging to all regions and walks of life have demonstrated their faith and firm commitment to these ideals of Pakistani state as outlined in the basic law of the land. PM's speech is a reiteration of nation's commitment to these ideals. Military rule by its very definition is a negation of these ideas as the state is run on unitary lines, parliament is by-passed and powers of judiciary are curbed. He explained that the military rule was the most undesirable form of the government as under it all suffer, including the military, which "gets the blame not only for the wrongs it committed but also for those it did not." In his speech Gilani also talked about the food shortage, power outrages, unemployment etc and said that they were serious challenges confronting Pakistan apart from extremism. "No doubt, the problems are enormous," the PM said," but not greater than the will and commitment of the people of Pakistan. They have proved time and again that they are capable of facing any kind of challenge successfully....the only course available with us is adherence to the democratic process. It must be allowed to function on a sustainable basis." The message is clear. Respect for the constitution and acceptance of popular mandate given by the people to their elected civilian leadership on Feb 18 are the parameters within which all state functionaries, including the military will have to perform." It is encouraging to find, as the PM has himself stated that the current military high command realises the perils of military's involvement in politics and has initiated a process of de-militarisation of civil institutions. In his address at NDU, the PM has covered almost all aspects of the past pattern of civil-military relations in Pakistan. This pattern, as Gilani stated, was based on an unholy alliance of a few among the military leadership, the opportunist politicians, who lacked integrity, the members of bureaucracy, who were ready to compromise on principles, the gagged media, the members of judiciary, who provided cover to the unconstitutional acts in the name of necessity and members of civil society, who preferred to be silent spectators. This pattern can no longer sustain in the backdrop of tremendous changes taking place before our eyes. The people have given their verdict in favour of a break with the past. The constitutional package the PM spoke about heralds a paradigm shift in Pakistan's civil-military relations.