SHIREEN M MAZARI Worst is that democracy has led us into more political instability as the democratic leaders opt for the usual authoritarian approach to governance alongside a feudal mindset that makes them regard the country as their personal fiefdom. Is there a deliberate death wish the leadership has for Pakistan and its nationals? Otherwise, why would the president and the prime minister deliberately plunge the country into yet another judicial crisis at a time when the nation is already suffering from multiple crises making their daily lives an uphill struggle? The IMF has ensured that there will be no economic stability for many years to come and that the poor will either become even poorer or, when that option has been exhausted for those who had it in the first place, simply die with the increasing deprivation. Fuel is up; gas is up but barely available as is the case with electricity; water is becoming a rare commodity thanks partially to India and our leaderships tolerance of its water terrorism; sugar and flour have become luxury goods; yet the IMFs voracious appetite for destroying the stability of developing countries has yet to be sated and now it is demanding a mini budget with more killer measures for the masses. After all, it is only the masses that suffer such measures, the ruling elite relying on state largesse for gas, electricity, fuel and all other luxuries. Nor is it just the economic issues of daily life that are taking their toll as never before on the ordinary Pakistani. There is the total lack of law and order and the shadow of terrorism spread across the country post-9/11 after our previous rulers went into a costly and destructive alliance with the US in its misnamed War on Terror and our present rulers continuation of the same support - albeit in an even more expansive fashion. It is not that we did not suffer from terrorism before, but certainly after recklessly going along with the US, despite our dismal history with that country, the problem underwent a qualitative shift in scale and type. Right now a typology of terrorism prevailing in Pakistan would have to include the extremist Taliban threat, the ethno-sub national threat, the targeted political killings, state terrorism of India, in terms of support for militancy in FATA and Balochistan, and the US, in the form of drone attacks and the constant blackmail of the do more mantra. As if that was not enough to tax the strength of the nation - and we do have that one quality of survival and bouncing back strength in abundance - the return of democracy is fast becoming a nightmare with corruption of multiple types being the order of the day. But the worst is that democracy has led us into more political instability as the democratic leaders opt for the usual authoritarian approach to governance alongside a feudal mindset that makes them regard the country as their personal fiefdom. That is why, just when the nation was finally seeing a solitary light of an independent judiciary from the tunnel of despair they were in, the leaders have chosen to try and put this light out fast. Why, when they are supposedly the peoples representatives, having come in through a legitimate electoral process? Because, behind that legitimate electoral process there were deals to wipe the slate clean on corruption and murder through the infamous NRO. When the judiciary struck the NRO down, the beneficiaries suddenly saw their past coming to haunt them again - hence, the self-created new judicial crisis. But times have altered and the people fought a long hard battle to get an independent judiciary just as the media fought a long hard battle for its independence - and neither is going to sacrifice their victory at the altar of greed, corruption and a whimsically authoritarian mindset the top leadership has. The polity has been divided and polarised along yet more fault lines and the violence that is being unleashed now has little to do with Taliban terrorism but everything to do with the ill-thought-out policies of the rulers. All institutional decision-making has been destroyed and the president has personalised his rule in a fashion similar to Musharrafs with all issues being seen in a them versus us mode. Whenever rulers personalise their political opposition, it ends in disaster - both for the ruler and the nation and creates unlikely and often undeserving martyrs. Perhaps defending ones large foreign accounts and properties whitewashed through the NRO can be a major reason to understand the presidents bizarre behaviour on the judges issue, but the prime ministers flip flops are making less sense with each new statement he issues. Why is he being compelled to defend the indefensible when knowledgeable sources insist he was opposed to the president issuing the controversial notifications of Saturday 13th February? Just when one thought sanity was prevailing in prime ministerial quarters at least with the issuance of Gilanis statement that the government would accept the Supreme Courts decision on the judges issue, strange sound bytes began coming from the PM. First it was a totally unnecessary and meaningless declaration that the judges issue was not Kashmir Not only was this an absurd statement, it sent a wrong signal to India that Pakistan really did not expect the issue of Kashmir to be resolved However, the latest sound byte - although by now there are probably more gems coming the way of the hapless nation - was too much. Gilani declared imperiously that the restoration of the judges had not yet been ratified by Parliament. Does he not know that the judges never accepted the executive order of Musharraf that removed them? But in any case, an illegal executive order through an equally questionable emergency, once it is overturned by a legal executive authoritys order, requires no Parliamentary ratification. So who is the prime minister trying to fool? It is no wonder, then, that our foreign detractors are playing games at our expense. India is blowing hot and cold over the start of a new dialogue framework, while we are showing indecent haste to get to New Delhi for any kind of talks it appears. The most threatening though is the latest edict from Senator Kerry, who obviously loves coming here to satisfy his imperial urges, who has not only flung the do more mantra once again at Pakistan but has pushed the Indian agenda forward by telling us that Kashmir should not be part of the initial dialogue between Pakistan and India. Apart from the fact that Kerry is truly ignorant about the core relevancy of Kashmir to all disputes between Pakistan and India, who is he to tell this long suffering nation how to dialogue with India? Enough is enough. For goodness sake, even while the leadership is locked in political disputes and power tussles at home, it should realise that the people of Pakistan have had it with US diktat. The frequency with which US politicians and officials visit and hold forth on what we should be doing has simply got to stop. It merely adds to the discontent and instability within this country. And our leaders are ensuring that that is in abundant supply with no help from anyone