Khurshid Akhtar Khan The July 31 judgement of the 14-member Supreme Court bench declaring the November 3, 2007 emergency unconstitutional is being acclaimed as historic. As a consequence the Islamabad High Court has ceased to exist, the appointment of 76 superior court judges has been referred to the Supreme Judicial Council, and a big question mark looms on the validity of 37 ordinances promulgated single-handed by the then president and COAS Pervez Musharraf. The judgement has instilled a breath of fresh air in an environment where our representatives in the Parliament and those placed in positions of authority appear to lack the will or courage to confront the numerous fundamental issues facing the nation and take bold decisions. Political expediency, appeasement of coalition partners or party members, dictation from the American patrons and internal unrest seem to have prevented the rulers for the last 17 months to disturb the status-quo inherited from the semi-military regime, resulting in a perception of poor governance and feeling of doom and gloom in the general public. The popularity of our government stands at less than 10 percent in the eyes of people as concluded by a recent opinion survey. A verdict of such monumental significance, that has purged the superior judiciary and asserted itself as an independent pillar of the state parallel to the executive, could not be taken without extremely careful deliberations by the best legal minds in the country and evaluation of the long-term implications and possible repercussions from those whose feathers could possibly be roughed. It has also placed an unprecedented responsibility on the judges to walk the talk. That it has been gracefully received by the government, the affected judges, all political parties and has struck a popular chord even with those common people on the street who have little or no understanding of the legal complexities or of its real significance, is indicative of our nation's improved sense of co-existence and peaceful advancement in the direction of a slow revolution. The judgement is by no means iron clad as is apparent by the number of controversies it has generated and a host of unanswered questions and unresolved issues that have been directed towards the Parliament. It also appears to have discounted subversion of the constitution by letting the people responsible for causing and abetting it to roam Scott free. The law of necessity has also been quietly exercised with the usual pragmatism of not derailing the existing system not very unlike the previous analogous judgements that were also called historic at the time. Some also accuse the judgement to be vindictive and term it as judicial activism. Nonetheless, this first step has shaken the prevailing legal status-quo by taking the bull by the horn as never before and has opened the way for a national debate on issues that were considered taboo or too hot to handle. Our common folk may be simple, uneducated and resource less but they have a remarkable political awareness and desire to forge ahead. Their indifference to contribute at the individual level in resolving the national problems originates from keeping them alienated from the process of governance due to which they wait for someone else to do it for them while wishing they will go away. We have at least two institutions now that have adopted the pro-active route involving the people with them. One, the media has fearlessly taken it upon itself to highlight and analyse issues of public interest and engage those with responsibility in debates in print and on television that has found its way into most homes by courtesy of more than one hundred cable networks. Two, the higher judiciary and the legal system are seen to be striving to live up to the expectations of the public in fulfilling the pledges they made during the two year long struggle since the Chief Justice was summarily dismissed in March 2007. A third force that has emerged as the conscience of the people is the civil society and human rights organisations that joined the campaigns against injustice relentlessly. We are an impoverished and misgoverned country. Our economy is riddled with big holes through which resources have been funnelled by the ruling class, civilian and military alike, creating a class of a handful of immensely rich and influential people. These dynasties and their cronies have controlled our destiny throughout the last six decades through a system that makes it difficult for the average citizen to emerge. The hapless public, one third of which still lives below the acknowledged poverty line and the rest barely above, never had any choice but to tamely follow the wishes of these groups, all of whom ruled in the name of the people but primarily pursued their own vested objectives portraying them as national interests. The lawyer's movement and the free news media have for the first time, familiarised the people of the potential of their collective strength that forced the rulers to submit to the wishes of the majority as witnessed by the reinstatement of the dismissed judges under public pressure in March of this year. Unfortunately our ruling elite continue to function in a state of denial under false notions of self-aggrandisement refusing to come to terms with our weaknesses and limitations. Many of our national assets like the Steel Mill, WAPDA and Pakistan Railways are practically bankrupt and have been a huge drain on the exchequer to keep them solvent. These should have been off loaded to the private sector or drastically trimmed and restructured to turn them into efficient and profit oriented organisations but are being retained to induct their favourites in plum job. We are still running a trade deficit of $1.15 billion per month despite a substantial fall in the oil import bill due to oil prices tumbling to less than $60 from a high of $145 per barrel. Our exports are down by 20.78 percent due to power shortage and drastic reduction in export orders as the deteriorating law and order situation does not inspire confidence of foreign buyers in our capability to deliver. We have constantly ignored agriculture and the plight of farmers that constitute nearly 80 percent of our population although the landed class have always dominated the assemblies. We have failed to develop the engineering sector that forms the backbone of basic infrastructure and have been cursed with undue dependence on import of foreign fabricated machinery. We have patronised a luxurious consumer culture of imported goods at the cost of expanding out indigenous manufacturing base. If it was not the remittance of overseas Pakistanis that has surged to $750 million in the month of July this year, our balance of payment would have nose-dived. Yet the government is borrowing more money from domestic and overseas banks than it has means to repay, disregarding to exercise the option of cutting expenditure and living within available oblivious to the fate of the future generations entangled in the cobweb of debt. Our foreign policy has reduced us to the status of a slave state with a begging bowl in hand that wealthy foreign governments promise to fill but never do. Internally, Balochistan, NWFP and FATA are on fire where our people are being killed indiscriminately by militants, US drones and our own forces. Karachi and Sindh are simmering with undercurrents and Punjabis are lobbying for the division of their province. The people's expectations from the democratically elected government with representation from all major parties to resolve the political grievances of each province by bringing all political stakeholders together on a negotiating table have not materialised. The little people of this country also expect their government to divert some attention from their ambitious projects designed for the privileged to their micro problems of basic civic amenities like clean drinking water and sewerage, education, health, economical housing, protection from red tape and safety for their life and belongings. The government must remember that if they will not deliver they will have to contend with the other pillars of the state and the power of the people that is not as toothless as before. The writer is an engineer and an entrepreneur E-mail: k.a.k786@hotmail.com