IF ever a leadership showed a suicidal bent of mind, it is the present one in Pakistan. For the Presidency to put itself on a collision course with the Judiciary, serves no purpose - either for the wellbeing of the nation or for the political set up itself. President Zardari and his advisers have not grasped the qualitative change that has taken place not only in the psyche of the senior judiciary but also the nation after the latter struggled for the establishment of an independent Judiciary. The rulers cannot ride roughshod over this state institution anymore and the judiciary has a new compact with the nation to provide them justice and ensure that no one remains above the law. That all the ruling elite will have to face accountability in the wake of the NRO ruling by the Supreme Court should have sunk in by now; but it seems a panic-stricken and guilty political leadership has chosen to try and thwart the judicial processes and Constitution. In fact, the petty level of vengefulness displayed by the present leadership was reflected in the alleged holding up, by a nationalised bank, of a personal cheque of the Chief Justice despite there being money in his account What could be more reflective of the shadow of Musharraf still hanging over the Presidency? Unfortunately, the Presidents efforts to collide head on with the Supreme Court have been given tacit support by the Prime Minister despite his apparent disagreement over the Presidents action. Barring a few minor exceptions, the nation and the mainstream political parties and leaders have shown their disapproval of the Presidents action and unfortunately we can now see a political confrontation also brewing with only the Prime Minister having the ability to defuse the situation. He is not an NRO beneficiary and can adopt the high moral ground by removing all NRO beneficiaries from his cabinet. Eventually he will also have to take on the President who has been treating the country as his personal fiefdom. The PML-N leadership has also finally moved away from playing the role of merely a friendly opposition - a fact that has given President Zardari far too much of a comfort zone to do as he pleases. The fact is that accountability of the powerful will have to take place and it is sad to see those accused of corruption guiding the President into a self-created confrontation that bodes ill for the country and democracy. The timing also seems to have been carefully selected to coincide with the commencement of the US operation in Helmand which is going to occupy the Pakistan army to ensure that the fallout does not land up in our tribal areas. Clearly, the present leadership has absolutely no concern for the country at all - only for its own survival. The coming days are crucial for Pakistan. Will the judiciary assert its rightful independence and uphold the Constitution, the law of the land, accountability and the rights of the people; or will a 'democratic authoritarian reign of corruption and personalised rule manage to undermine the nation once again in the worst tradition of military dictatorships?