Are we back to the familiar normal pattern of politics, as the post-election euphoria recedes? The emerging signs show that the powerful continue with their conventional power play, while the powerless carry on the struggle for survival. The real issue for the masses is roti, kapra aur makan not the restoration of the judges, says Asif Zardari. Does it show the keenness of new leadership to address the real issues or it is just a diversionary tactic to deflect the public attention away from the promised reinstatement of judiciary? It seems a little early to find a definitive answer, however the unfolding trends albeit confusing and conflicting indicate the game plan. After the election results, jubilant Zardari pronounced that he didn't want only the government but also the power to change the system. The people widely welcomed the statement and alliance formation between PPP, PML(N) and ANP. As it was reflective of peoples' mandate and it enabled coalition to bring about a meaningful change. The expectations were raised further by the Bhurban Declaration. Some reports on private channels said that Nawaz-Zardari duo would proceed to Saudi Arabia for a low-rate oil deal. It reinforced the optimism that the new coalition was up to rectifying the constitutional puzzles and solving the multiple problems like inflation, energy and the food crisis. Remediation of the systemic errors means removing the constitutional anomalies, ensuring independence of judiciary, and establishing the parliamentary supremacy. These intrinsically interconnected issues are grounded on the doctrine of rule of law. The collective will of the people has been expressed emphatically against the personalised rule, which is anathema to the rule of law. However, the political drift shows that the initial optimism was perhaps misplaced. The personal rule of Musharraf may be outdated but it may not necessarily be replaced by a working democracy. May it sound pessimistic, but the unfolding political scenario does not allow much optimism. So far the elected government seems treading on the same familiar political path characterised with the twin dilemmas of Pakistan's politics. First, in the absence of viable party organisation and proper homework the elected parties after coming into office have to rely on bureaucratic structure of the state. Second, excessive reliance of the parties on strong personalities makes the elected leaders as doctoral as the non-elected ones. The combined effect is that the leaders lose touch with their support base and become susceptible to manipulations of the establishment. The strong men and the weak party organisations cannot offer a democratic alternative to military dictatorship. We have witnessed this phenomenon too often in our parliamentary history. It is wrong to put all the blame on the exogenous factors exclusively. Undemocratic behaviour of the elected leadership is equally responsible for recurrent failure of the system. Who decides what and how does have implications for democratic polity. The manoeuvres and the mystery surrounding the nomination of the prime minister, tentative commitments on the restoration of judges and making the key appointments on basis of personal friendship do not evoke public confidence. In the parliamentary democracy, the institutions like parties, cabinet and parliament are taken seriously. How does Yousuf Raza Gilani stand different from Mir Zafar Ullah Jamali and Shaukat Aziz? Despite being elected with historic votes, the initiative for important decisions lies outside his office and the parliament. No wonder if the people fail to see any perceptible difference from the recent past. Besides this politico-constitutional-judicial crisis, the people are suffering from multiple energy and food crisis coupled with the collapse of public services. It is unrealistic to expect the government to solve the energy crisis overnight. But it should not be an excuse for inaction. Certain short-term measures are urgently required to alleviate the peoples' sufferings. But regrettably, so far the government has failed to stop even the unscheduled load shedding for the voters. At the same time, dual power supply lines are provided to the houses of important personalities. If the government cannot ensure to maintain power supply to the people, it can at lease distribute power cuts equally without elite exemptions. People plunged in dark and boiling in the sizzling summer are looking for alternative private devices - generators and converters. Those who can afford Rs 15000 to 35000 are spending it out on such devices, those who cannot are absolutely at the mercy of hot summer. In addition to the heavy load shedding, there is an ongoing flour shortage. The soaring prices of essential food items like wheat, rice, sugar, edible oil and others have increased the hardships of the poor manifolds. The ruling elite, unmindful of the explosive nature of the crisis, is doing the business as usual. The often-tried bureaucratic measures are not enough to tackle the unusual situation. No immediate attention to these burning issues is expected when the very fate of PPP-PML(N) coalition hangs on the issue of judge's reinstatement. And, it appears that much touted idea of "national government" is a euphemism to prepare for eventual parting of the ways with Nawaz Sharif. So, the politics of the country is back on the familiar track of power politics. The power politics paradigm is too cruel to let any kind of hope and idealism survive. But the practitioners of realpolitik need to understand as well that the paradigm of power has failed to resolve the multiple crises, they produced. The people are longing for a shift in paradigm that can embrace a humane, moral and imaginative approach towards politics and public issues. Sooner the leadership responds the better. E-mail: shahid.anwer@hotmail.com