AZAM KHALIL "Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people." - Harry Emerson Pakistan is a unique country where its political leadership claims to stand for democratic principles, but most of their actions are against every definition of democracy. Everyone is aware that the country is passing through a critical juncture where a large number of its troops were engaged against local and foreign insurgents, who had dominated vast areas in parts of NWFP and virtually installed their brand of extremism that violated every concept of human rights and principles. On another front the country is engaged to formulate a system that would allow Pakistan to stand on its feet and would not have to beg for IMF loans in order to sustain economically. But the politicians instead of creating conditions that were conducive towards peace and harmony have continued to spar at each other creating further despondency and a situation of uncertainty. Such conditions have created a vicious cycle that if not broken soon could plunge the country into a serious crisis both at the economic and administrative levels. While stories are being circulated with a motive to create a situation that may lead to the intervention by the armed forces or in actions that went beyond the jurisdiction of the constitution of Pakistan. A particular group in the media is waging their own jihad against the government. Undoubtedly, this is being done with the blessing of powerful vested interests. Needless to say that this situation also has created an atmosphere that is putting the economy under severe strain and all types of investments have come to a stop or the progress in growth has come down to a painfully slow rate. These conditions have only helped to increase unemployment which in turn creates more problems that are a serious impediment in good governance. We have all seen that the government had to withdraw the NRO that was presented before the Parliament, as a requirement due to the decision of the Supreme Court, solely because the allies of the government withdrew their support at the last minute that forced the Peoples Party to leave this issue once again at the door of the judiciary. Here it would be interesting to know that just after the elections former President Pervez Musharraf had offered the Pakistan Peoples Party the required number of parliamentary votes that they needed to form a stable government at the federal level. At that point in time, the legislators belonging to MQM and PML-Q were ready to follow the directions of General Musharraf. Traditionally, all the MNAs belonging to the FATA region have always voted with the government of the day. JUI and ANP had already indicated that they were willing to strike a political deal with the Party, thus allowing them to have a comfortable majority in the National Assembly. At that time both Asif Ali Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif showed political pragmatism and joined hands sending a loud signal to the forces who could indulge in any misadventure against the institution of democracy. Both the leaders later on saw the fruits of a prudent political approach when they easily forced the military dictator out of the presidency, who is now in self-imposed exile. Unfortunately, soon after the ouster of the general certain elements within the PML-N, led by a squad dubbed 'political assassins of democracy', created a situation that led to the parting of ways between PPP and PML-N at the centre. So, this situation increased the blackmailing power of the smaller political parties who were now having a field day crippling the federal government. Certainly, this situation could have been avoided if PPP and PML-N had continued to work in harmony. And the arrangement could then allow and create conducive conditions so that the country was pulled out from its present difficulties. However, Mian Nawaz Sharif in his wisdom has continued to attack the policies of Party demanding the repeal of the 17th Constitutional Amendment that will then pave the way for the elder Sharif to become the prime minister of the country for the third time in case his party was to win in the next general elections. This impatience on the part of Nawaz Sharif has created serious difficulties for the government which seems to be on the brink of political collapse, a situation where it is being easily blackmailed by some of its allies. But this does not mean that there is no share on the shoulders of PPP in the creation of the present scenario. Serious reports of corruption by some of the federal ministers and the awkward attitude of the incumbent prime minister have also helped to stoke the fires that have the potential to consume the institution of democracy. Moreover, foot-dragging by Mr Asif Ali Zardari on certain commitments made with PML-N have indeed contributed to the present political stalemate which has led to the present political situation where speculation rules the ground. Unfortunately, the democratic forces seem to be at war with themselves and if this continues for some time the whole edifice of democracy is likely to collapse once again plunging the country into a catastrophe. It would, therefore, be in the best interest of all the political forces, especially those who did not participate in the last general elections, to ease the political temperatures so that the anti-democratic forces are not provided with yet another opportunity to become dominant in the country. So far Nawaz Sharif has been very tactful and has been consistent on the issue of supporting the democratic forces, but this could dramatically change once the 18th Constitutional Amendment was put in place by the government. He is expected to immediately call for mid-term elections soon thereafter. It would, therefore, be entirely proper in case Mian Sahib provided acceptable guarantees that there would be no change in his present policy to support PPP even after the 17th Constitutional Amendment is scrapped by the Parliament. This will not only allow a swift passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, but would bring about political stability that would be productive for the entire country. Furthermore, a stable government will not only have a better opportunity to serve the interests of the people of this country, but would also mean rapid progress in the economic arena. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that both the major political parties which claim to stand for democratic principles should stop fighting with one another because if the situation continues to deteriorate at the present speed it will not be far off when the brass decides to step in and correct the situation. Past experience has proved again and again that while intervention by the army became essential, the long years of military rule instead of improving the economy or providing the people of this country with a better quality of life resulted in creating more problems. And at the end of the day the country and its people suffered more. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: