Alas We are today like motionless wooden marionettes singing opera with flapping mouths which somehow fits with the bizarre dark humour of the medieval ages. Our wooden faces do express the most dramatic of human emotions, lust, jealousy, fear, anger, greed and despair but with a surrealist, weirdly hilarious quality. We are endlessly lost in what could pass for a puppetry drama where actors made of flesh and actors made of wood are together producing a constant comedy of errors. Every one knew General Musharraf's personal involvement with the Queue League which he himself cobbled together as "king's party" in 2002 when he used state machinery and resources as well as arm-twisting through NAB apparatus for securing large scale defections from other major parties to huddle together a group of self-seekers and political wanderers familiarly knows as "Lotas." He used this group for his personal aggrandizement as long as he was its "uniformed" icon. He thought he could still dictate his terms to its leadership. Musharraf re-enacted his March 9 script with his old partner, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to persuade him to give up the PML Queue leadership, and to let the party acronym PML now stand for "Pervez Musharraf League" under new leadership. Our "philosopher king" refused. Musharraf was not in uniform this time. He had to digest even things the old Chaudhry did not wish to say. The meeting, like the March 9 encounter, ended in a stalemate as a grim reminder for the president of his receding "power and influence."  He is now leaning back on his old sources of strength. The hidden hand is active again. The backstage intrigue is sowing confusion and chaos in the civilian government's camps. Musharraf has himself been drawing a scary scenario by threatening that if he was forced to step down, the US will attack the tribal areas and will also take away Dr A.Q. Khan. He also claimed that without him, Pakistan's relations with China would suffer a setback and the operation of Gwadar Port would be affected. The sum-total of this scenario is that Pakistan will not survive without Musharraf. He was right in claiming in his book, In the Line of Fire, that the "buck really stops with him." He considers himself indispensable for the future of this country. It was with this conviction that he "decided" to remain president for another term by all means, because in his view, the country will not survive without him. The people of Pakistan, however, have a different opinion. They availed themselves of the opportunity on February 18 to show the door to him and to his allies. It was clearly a vote of "no confidence" against Musharraf and a referendum for change in the country. The people want an end to dictatorship. Prime Minister Gillani seems to have taken Musharraf's message rather seriously. He told journalists in Multan Press last Sunday that "matters relating to the presidency will be handled constitutionally and the issue of a working relationship with the president will be decided by the parliament." He also clarified that the "parliament will not be a mere rubberstamp and all state institutions will be protected while freedom of judiciary and media will also be ensured." Was he giving a message or just indulging in plain rhetoric? No one knows. Perhaps he himself did not know what he was talking about. In fact, no one knows what the civilian elected government has in its mind. It has given us a 100-day priority agenda but no one knows what is being done to address the challenges of "poverty, unemployment and terrorism." It has failed to reinstate the illegally deposed judges despite solemn declarations. The 30-day deadline came and has gone. The second deadline is almost over. It has done nothing even to solve the common man's immediate worries over acute food shortage and power outages. Amidst all this chaos and confusion, a scandalous incident involving mysterious by-election postponement raises serious doubts on the integrity of the ruling coalition itself. Apparently, there are insiders within the coalition's ranks colluding with the Musharraf camp. It seems even the top leaders of our political parties can be surprised by their whiz kids. The people are now beginning to wonder whether they made the right choice when they voted in the February elections, and whether their elected representatives have the capability or will to address their problems. They voted for PPP and PML (N) not to develop protocol-dictated "working relationships" with Musharraf or to indemnify his constitutional "bravados" providing legal cover to the illegalities committed by him on November 3. The people of Pakistan also wonder how long in our country will the future of democracy, supremacy of the constitution, independence of judiciary and the rule of law remain subservient to the will of an individual. They are agonizing over the delay in implementing their verdict on the reinstatement of the judges of superior courts. One thing is clear. The people want an end to dictatorship. They are tired of frequent and protracted spells of military rule in the country. They do not want their elected leadership to relent on this mandate. There was a ray of hope for the people when the new army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, a thorough professional soldier, signaled his commitment to regaining the army's place in the hearts and minds of the people, and restoring its prestige and honour by reverting it to its constitutional and professional role. He could see what the people wanted and initiated a process for disengagement of the military from Pakistan's civil governance and body politic. This was a good first step towards restoring the army's institutional integrity. Despite all the cosmetic measures taken to distance the army from Musharraf after his "civilianisation", the people remain suspicious of a continuing "deep-seated" nexus between the two. His continued occupation of the "army house" as his political "ops fortress" aggravates these suspicions. More concrete steps would be needed to clear the murky atmosphere. The foremost would be the undoing of the wrongs General Musharraf has done to the country's constitution and its judiciary through his Nov 3 extra-constitutional blitz in which he, as army chief, not only suspended the country's constitution promulgating a provisional constitutional order but also illegally removed those judges of the superior courts who refused to take fresh oath under his PCO, an acronym that more appropriately stood for Musharraf's 'Personal' Constitutional Order. On December 15, Musharraf lifted the emergency but restored nothing except a badly mauled constitution. Far from reversing the actions taken by him in his capacity as army chief on and after Nov 3, Musharraf only entrenched them further by giving them a life beyond the period of emergency though a flurry of "unchallengeable" constitutional amendments and presidential decrees. His self-specific changes in the constitution were meant only to provide "legal cover" to his actions under emergency, and his controversial October 6 re-election as president in violation of Articles 41 and 63 of the Constitution. Amazingly, all these measures were taken by General Musharraf under powers that he first used in his capacity as the army chief to impose an extra constitutional state of emergency, and then in anticipation of his vacating the office of army chief, he conveniently transferred to himself as civilian president. This was a person-to-person exclusive transfer of power designed only to ensure that General Musharraf, even after becoming Mr Musharraf, continues to own the constitution and the law. Nowhere in the world has the state power been concentrated so densely in one person by name. Despite the overwhelming vote against him and his supporters, Musharraf is still bent upon building his own blocks and exploring unnatural and self-serving alternative alliances for a coalition of his own choice and convenience. The big question, however, is who will undo the wrongs done to the country in the name of army chief on November 3? The politicians are lost in a maze of expediency-based reconciliation deals. The people do not expect any miracles from them. But the army which like the judiciary has had a direct role in bringing the country to where we are today could perhaps help salvage the country from this conundrum. General Kayani could perhaps give a jumpstart to the democratic process in the country. He owes it to his country. He should turn strength into right by declaring publicly that the office of Pakistan's army chief should not have been used for the unconstitutional and illegal actions taken by General Musharraf on Nov 3. Every thing else will then fall in its place bringing an instant end to our current political crisis and to our sardonic "puppetry drama."