The brutal manner in which Mr Zardari's government has let loose its state apparatus on the protesting lawyers, political workers and members of the civil society in denying them their inalienable constitutional right belies its grandiose claims to be a democracy. In the process, it has also laid bare its inherent fears and absolute reluctance to deal with the concept of an independent judiciary in Pakistan. Though one has written on the subject before, it was hoped that, being claimants to waging a political struggle in the country and having suffered its consequences in the past, the ruling clique would not overindulge its penchant to derail the burgeoning democratic process by trying to scuttle the ensuing long march. Quite obviously, this has proved to be misplaced optimism as the brutal state machine, led by that un-elected czar of the Interior Ministry, immediately degenerated to showing its naked fangs and improving on the lethality and extensiveness of despotic tools used so shamelessly even by former military dictators. It would thus come as little surprise if, tomorrow, whipping machines are displayed all over the country to administer speedy justice to those found disputing the government's misplaced authority and its exclusive prerogative to debase it whichever way it would desire. Unfortunately, for the ruling concoction, the story would not end there. As a matter of fact, the battle has just begun and whichever way one may look at it, they will be its ultimate losers. When I asked a member of the lawyers' movement as to what would be the strategy if their top leadership were arrested, he responded with conviction in each syllable that he spoke: "Every lawyer is a leader in his or her own right. One cadre may be incarcerated, the next would take over, then the next, and the struggle would go on to its logical end that rests with the annulment of the edict of November 3, 2007 and the restoration of an independent judiciary in the country." Leadership springs from collective consciousness that a certain movement succeeds in generating. Going by this yardstick, the lawyers' fraternity has unmistakably achieved the basics that would provide the raw ammunition to carry the movement forward with abounding enthusiasm. In the enactment of this brutal drama across the expanse of the country, the ruling clique stands denuded of all legitimate trappings of power that come with a democracy. Its political wisdom has been found wanting. Its moral authority lies buried under the weight of its broken promises and agreements that it made only in the recent past. Its writ is not exercised or respected through most of the country it is supposed to be ruling as it has been forced to cede authority to the very people it was proclaiming to the world to be fighting. Each day is witness to the unfurling of a new antic in a desperate bid to cling to all contours of power, country or no country One is also saddened at the deafening silence that some respected leaders of the People's Party, with a tradition of having supported democratic causes in the past, have chosen to maintain. Are they afraid? Are they biding for time? Or, have they also reconciled with reaping the spoils of being in power to leave fighting for another day? May be, it is one of these, or a bit of all, but of one thing I am sure: People's Party today is not a party that even its founding chairman would recognise easily, or his daughter reconcile with There seems to be such total void of principles among the leaders of the party. Even the likes of Raza Rabbani opted to resign only when he was bypassed to be the Chairman of the Senate. Or a political worker of the stature of Jehangir Badar has opted not only to refrain from coming up with viable alternatives, but also make effort to defend his embattled, rudderless and bankrupt leadership. Safdar Abbasi and Naheed Khan have spoken up in extending their principled support to the ongoing struggle. But, where is the rank and file of a large party that is the inheritor of such a proud political legacy? This silence would be the apt shroud around the dead meat that still makes an effort to subsist as a political party. There is obvious unrest within the PPP. The divisions and fissures have started showing through. The body language of those representatives who take upon themselves the onerous responsibility of defending their party under the glare of the cameras belies their innermost sentiments. They speak with no conviction or courage. They come across as merely parroting the party line that has since long been shorn of any logic or reason. This line of defence is built around the infallible and impregnable persona of one Mr Asif Ali Zardari who can commit no wrong. Instead, it is the world that is out to get him through no fault of his. How long would the party survive by promoting the personality cult of an individual who has nothing by way of even a credible political struggle to support his errant credentials? Once this veneer dissolves, it would be one steep plunge. One would only feel sorry for the good ones who would go down with the landslide. The political equation in the country can be best described as one man against a whole nation. And that one man believes that the only straw that can save him is the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). Onto it, he must hang on tight. He is in perpetual fright of the concept of an independent judiciary, as an embrace with a dictator would not stand before law. Once on the wrong side, one is bound to pile on mistakes to hide the original sin. That is why we have such a heap of degenerate concepts being randomly thrown around and fear syndrome being assiduously cultivated. It is a steep precipice and we are falling headlong into the lap of nowhere. There is no turning back for either of the contestants: one for not willing to compromise with a principled stand it has taken for the restoration of an independent judiciary and the rule of law in the country and for which it has waged a struggle for over two years now, and the other for its unstinting obduracy and abject failure to see that in it may also lie its future survival. From Zia's times of tyranny to Zardari's tyranny of times, it has been a long and arduous struggle for a nation trying to discover its true identity. Every time, it has been betrayed. But, what would you do of a people who refuse to stop dreaming? The writer is an independent political analyst based in Islamabad. E-mail: raoofhasan@hotmail.com