Most Pakistanis believe that feudalism is the main cause of Pakistan's plight and to a great extent they are right. However, when they think of feudalism they think only of its classical form. Big land holdings, debauched and cruel landowners, over worked and under fed tillers, whose women enjoy a lower status than cattle. But the most prominent characteristic of a feudal of the classical age was that he above the law of the land. The writ of the state used to stop at the boundary from where his property started. In other words, he was a law onto himself. However, though these kinds of feudals still exist in Pakistan, they are a dying breed because they have been replaced by a more powerful, well trained and highly organised group who possess large and lethal weapons and are very rich. These new feudals are taught that they are a cut above the others, the only true patriots and protectors of Pakistan's integrity and therefore not answerable to any one but their own institution. It takes only a few more years for them to develop the conviction that they can do no wrong. Concepts such as the rule of law do not apply to them and documents such as the constitution are no more than a "piece of paper", as President Zia said on one occasion. They also learn to call the politicians and the civil bureaucracy "the B...civvies" who they think as corrupt and inefficient and therefore not to be trusted with the higher matters of state policy such as war and peace and relations with major foreign powers. By the time they start to wear swords and stars on their epaulets they are also convinced that they make the best administrators and ambassadors. Consequently, at the first sign of dissension among the political leaders and public disaffection with them, their big chief moves the famous 111 Brigade, to Islamabad's Constitutional Ave with the orders to take over key installations, starting with the PTV and the Radio Pakistan buildings, and arrest the prime minister and key members of his Cabinet. His Corp commander in the provincial capitals takes similar measures at his orders. By then a very nice speech, based on extracts from the speeches made by his predecessors on the occasion of similar misappropriation of power, is ready to be read by him in an address to the nation on the TV and radio channels. In this he justifies his takeover, which is always to save Pakistan from the corrupt and inefficient politicians whose crimes and follies had brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy, chaos and lawlessness. He goes on to impose martial law, dismiss the federal and provincial governments, dissolve the assemblies, abrogate or suspend the constitution and promises to return the country to true democracy, as soon as he has punished the corrupt and rid the country of corruption. He then calls the "Jadoogar of Jeddah" to bring the various drafts of LFOs or PCOs, which the jadoogar carries in his hip pocket all the time, chooses a suitable one, makes it the interim constitution, invites a few "selected" judges to take a new oath of office, forms a government of sycophants and begins to take other measures to consolidate his hold over power. Then he begins to rule, legislate and adjudicate, all at the same time, for as long as he can, like a Mughal Emperor, accountable to no one. But it is in the nature of things to change, and dictatorship is no exception. The main problem of a dictator, at least in Pakistan, has been the lack of legitimacy. Chance brings him to power and the uniform that he wears keeps him there. But after about 5-6 years of absolute rule his arrogance spirals up while his popularity begins to decline. By that time his ego is so inflated and his common sense so impaired that he is unable to take sound decisions. However the greater the mistake he makes the louder the applause he gets from the sycophants, that he gathers around him. So begins the chain of silly mistakes that begin to wrap him, until one day he makes the worst mistake and slip and falls from his high perch on which he had been sitting, illegally propped by the guns under his command. But once he begins to fall, well-planned schemes begin to go awry and the power stops to flow from the barrel of the gun. Soon all hell breaks loose, panic set in and mistakes become ever bigger. The all-powerful and wise man in the uniform who could do no wrong can do nothing right. It does not take very long from there to the end at which point he is either deposed by the people or disposed off by his foreign benefactors. However, the tragedy of Pakistan has been that no matter how grave the nature of their folly and crime, be it mutilation of the constitution or loss of territory; humiliating defeat or surrender of 90,000 troops to the enemy; break up of the country; costly adventures like Kargil or death of thousands of our brave soldiers on the freezing heights of Karakoram; the illegal dismissal of 60 judges of the Supreme and High Courts or the incarceration of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and his entire family, the usurpers have never been held accountable. They are allowed to "gently pass away into the night" whereas civilian prime ministers are jailed, or hanged or sent into exile for much lesser violations of the law. But one thing goes to the credit of the new feudals. They first prepare the ground well then choose a perfect timing to strike. They stage a coup only when the politicians have made a mess of politics and the people become fed up of them. Unfortunately the same thing is happening now. While one accidental politician is trying to fool, the other is behaving like one. Instead of leaving the conjugal bed, he is pretending that their honeymoon is still on. By-elections are postponed at the behest of the crony, but Mian Shahbaz says that the co-chairman did not know about it. The adviser causes a major loss of credibility to the party, but he is taken to London to meet Mian Saheb. So the game of hide and seek goes on interminable while the common man who voted in overwhelming numbers for them in the hope that the judges would be reinstated, democracy restored, missing persons start to return, law and order will begin to improve, flour, though expensive, will be available, fuel prices in international market, though at all time high, the load shedding will be reduced. But the game of cat and mouse goes on. Mian Saheb, please smell the coffee. The honeymoon cannot be saved. Sooner or latter you will have to swallow the bitter pill. The sooner you do it the better it will be. In politics compromise is permissible but not complicity. Fundamental principles and promises must be upheld at all cost or people who trusted you get dejected and give up. If that happens, which is likely to happen soon, the final round will go to your tormentor and you will be history. The writer is a former ambassador