It would be naive to expect that the PPP government would finally mend its attitude towards an independent judiciary and start to play by the rules. The extraordinary events that unfolded towards the end of last week in and around the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and the subsequent press conference by the Federal Law Minister, Babar Awan, have shown that the hypocritical stance and short-sighted strategy of the party and its government vis--vis the superior judiciary would continue unchanged. Instead of listening to the sidelined saner voices within its ranks, the PPP has chosen to give a freehand to the brinkmanship of the very cooks whod spoilt the broth. At his press conference after the Supreme Court announced its order on withdrawal of the executive order for restoration of the superior judiciary, Babar Awan, the head chef, who seems to be an expert at brewing up poisonous broths with no meat, sounded like some minister in Musharrafs Cabinet, accusing the judiciary of playing politics. Other Zardari loyalists are similarly harping on old tunes, saying that their government cannot address important issues concerning the people because the courts have embroiled them in legal battles, berating the institution of judiciary and degrading individual judges. They accuse the superior courts of victimising their party and acting on behalf of the opposition and hidden hands. It is amazing that, in the same breath, they claim that they respect the judiciary and that they would follow its orders. The hypocrisy doesnt end there. The PPP jiyalas would like to take the credit for restoring the independent judiciary, something their government tried to stop by all means possible. They would like to tout the sacrifices they made in the 'Rule of Law movement, without bothering to explain why their government arrested thousands of pro-judiciary activists, teargassed and lathi-charged their processions and brought the entire country to a standstill by blocking roads and highways to stop their march to Islamabad for the restoration. Clearly, even as Zardari was signing the Bhurban declaration and signing agreements for the restoration of judiciary with the PML-N, he was determined to carry on with the Dogar court. The slippery logic advanced against the restoration by him and his smelly legal stalwarts are all recorded. Whether they like to admit it or not, an independent judiciary is something that the Zardari-led government never wanted. They tried their level best to scuttle the 'Rule of Law movement, and accepted its demands only when they were left with no choice. Things could have taken a positive turn after the restoration if they had accepted their place in the new scheme of things, necessitated due to what Aitzaz Ahsan termed as a leap in public consciousness, and demanding that those who govern the country must do so within the parameters of the Constitution. The 'Rule of Law movement, other than achieving its goal of restoring the judiciary against all odds, has also created this new democratic consciousness about rights and responsibilities, and governments in Pakistan will have to abide by it, running their affairs in accordance with law. Unfortunately, the Zardari-led government has not only refused to adjust to the new realities, it has deliberately tried to undermine this democratic wave and actively strengthened the perverse architecture of power imposed on the people of Pakistan. Whether it is the formation of coalitions or public welfare schemes, flouting of rules or vulgar lifestyles at public expense, corruption or its legitimisation, politics of patronage or cronyism, the government has chosen to further deepen the illegal grooves of status quo, ignoring the public consensus that demands a change for something better. For the Zardari-led dispensation, this is not a choice but a compulsion, as accepting the rule of law and Constitution could lead to its demise. The heightening of tension between his government and the judiciary is a logical outcome of this contradiction. No matter how hard the PPP tries to put a spin on the 'Rule of Law movement and claim that it came to power through public pressure (as if the movement was aimed at the holding of elections under Musharraf), it is no secret that the installation of the party in government followed a script peppered with shady deals and clandestine commitments. It is no secret, that the concession of NRO was granted by Musharraf to bring some manufactured democratic credibility to his regime in the form of PPP, and this was done with the active involvement of their imperial masters. Musha-rraf is spilling some beans from London, and President Zardari is on record to have said that he could not restore the judges because he had made a commitment to that effect. So much for the 'Rule of Law movement being geared towards bringing about this engineered pseudo-democracy that was planned behind closed doors and not won in the court of the people. Obviously, the pubic sentiment that fuelled the mass movement was not for the holding of elections under Musharraf. When the PPP refused to join the boycott of the 2008 elections, there was a debate within the movement about whether participating in the elections would weaken the movement or help in achieving its prime objective of restoration of judiciary. In any case, the movement was never meant to come to an end with the holding of elections and installation of a 'democratic government, something that the PPP jiyalas tried their best to do. The awakened public, however, could not be suppressed with the lollipop of 'democracy and fought the so-called champions of democracy to bring the illegally sacked judges back to their proper place. While the government might try to hide behind a much-abused democracy, assurances from the Army Chief or the imperial masters it is beholden to, the tide of history is in the favour of an independent judiciary. Restored due to a mass movement, the independent judiciary has more democratic legitimacy than the Zardari government that was manufactured behind closed doors by the established power players. And if the PPP has any democratic spirit left in it, it would follow the will of the people as reflected in the restored judges, rather than hoodwinking them with the clever games their smelly legal stalwarts play. The writer is a freelance columnist.