I have the courage of my opinions, but I have not the temerity to give a political blank cheque. Goschn For the past several weeks, there has been an upheaval in the political atmosphere of the country. This has led to further destabilisation not only of the economy, but also given rise to all sorts of political speculations that define the political system of our country. However, a couple of political strokes by two major political parties, that is, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), have reassured the people of this country that politicians have, indeed, matured and that there is no truth in the speculations swirling in the air. This was confirmed by none other than the senior politician from Sialkot, Rana Shamim Ahmed Khan, who is known for his political sagacity and wisdom. According to him, PML-N Chief Mian Nawaz Sharif has decided that every effort will be put in place to ensure that the present democratic dispensation is not allowed to derail, in spite of the fact that there are several issues that need to be corrected by the government. He also maintains that never in the history of Pakistan, it stood more in need of democracy and, therefore, they will continue to play their due role to ensure that democratic institutions continued to function in spite of certain reservations that they might have. It means that the present system will continue to allow a smooth transition for the next democratically-elected government whenever general elections take place in the country. It also indicates that those who have been propagating that a change in the present setup will take place before the Senate elections will be proved wrong. That the elections will not only take place in time, but also will be conducted by the present regime. However, this does not mean that the PML-N agrees with all the policies that are being pursued by the present government; but it does mean that there, indeed, has been a maturity in thought amongst the ranking politicians of this country. Now, it is for the PPP leadership and its coalition partners to understand that they have fallen short on several issues and have not been able to deliver even a small percentage of the expectations of the people, who elected them to power. While it augers well for Pakistan that the will of the people is being allowed to prevail, urgent steps are required on the governments part to ensure the alleviation of the suffering of the poor masses. The recent maneuverers of Mian Nawaz Sharif - who went to the extent of praying at the tombs of late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and other members of his family was not only an appropriate political gesture, but also a loud signal to all the anti-democratic forces in the country - were harbouring ideas to sneak into power by fancy methods. This may have put to rest many an agitated mind and calmed down the rumour mill that was working overtime. It is also the duty of other political parties and their leaders to work for a common goal, which was to strengthen the institution of democracy. Lately, there has also been a lot of talk about the role of the armed forces and the independent judiciary, but the conduct of both these institutions have proved that they have also matured over time to understand the importance of allowing democratic institutions to flourish. This would, in turn, allow the establishment of institutions that will cater to the countrys future requirements. Perhaps, this maturity has come with the advent of several serious issues that have enveloped Pakistan, creating a lot of despondency and nervousness among a vast majority of the people. These issues include Pakistans effort for the war on terror, unilateral American action that led to the elimination of Osama bin Laden, Nato attack at the Salalah check post and stringent conditions imposed by the US and other financial donor institutions on the country. At first, there was an air of helplessness that was visible, but both the establishment and the civil government took a strategic decision to remain on the same page so that all these challenges faced by Pakistan could be overcome. More so, the country emerged united and this was demonstrated not only by the general public, but also statements coming out of the political parties of all shades of opinion. This strength of unity has been so remarkable that it has provided vigour and determination to the government, including the armed forces, who are now busy evaluating their past policies and formulating new ideas that would help protect the vital interests of Pakistan. One hopes that this new found unity and vitality, which is the result of extreme adversity faced by Pakistan and its people, will be channelised in a proper and productive manner, allowing the State to surmount the challenges it is facing. As far as the political leadership of Pakistan is concerned, they need to be congratulated on their collective efforts to strengthen the institution of democracy and there is no reason that they will not continue doing so in future. Their resolve is, probably, the basic reason that the establishment has decided to give them a helping hand where the will of the people continues to be respected. The politicians must understand that this system will continue to prosper if they fulfil the responsibilities given to them by the people that includes the weeding out of the menace of corruption, building of State institutions and providing relief to the masses within the resources that are available. While this may be a tall order, the time has come when the government should start moving in the proper direction so that it is possible for it to achieve the objectives. Although it is not out of place for politicians to pursue varying objectives and criticising the policies of other political parties, yet it is always better if they refrain from indulging in their best pastime of mudslinging on one another, since it creates problems for the people as well as affects the economic situation of the country. One hopes that there will be a smooth transition of power as and when the next general elections are held. That will be only possible if the elections are held in a transparent manner. Politicians should also learn to respect the will of the people and those who lose may not call it foul without cogent reasons. Otherwise, the danger to the institution of democracy will continue to stare, which is not in the interest of Pakistan or its people. The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com