Prime Minister Gilani met Chief of Army Staff General Kayani last Friday and rejected the impression that the government and the security establishment were engaged in a confrontation. The Supreme Court has made it clear on several occasions that it will not support any unconstitutional removal of the sitting government. Every big and small political party in the country has categorically ruled out the possibility of siding with a martial law. The media swears by democracy, and across the ideological spectrum, editors, commentators and anchor persons never tire of reiterating their support for the democratic process. Yet, we are told by various loud mouthpieces of the PPP government that there is a stinking conspiracy being hatched against not only the government, but also against Parliament and democracy itself. What exactly are they talking about? The refrain about a conspiracy being hatched against the perpetually victimised PPP is nothing new and the present party leadership doesn't hesitate to pull it out of its worn-out hat every time it is faced with a challenging situation. It is ironical that each time the PPP leadership has gone to town screaming murder, it has stopped short of exposing the conspiracy and bringing the perceived perpetrators to task. The fiery speeches do little more than casting vague aspersions against other institutions of the State and end up creating confusion and anxiety among the citizens. When convenient, this conspiracy talk is brushed under the carpet without any explanation. This is hardly something that one would expect from a responsible democratic government and it is difficult to understand how peddling such confrontations in the air serve the purpose of governance. Apparently, such talk is meant to obfuscate real issues. The recent bout of paranoia on part of the PPP hierarchy has been heightened by developments in the memo affair. To begin with, the ruling clique was not too happy with the media for giving it the hype that it got. Given that an article by a shady man in a foreign publication should not create a storm for us, the revelations and subsequent statements coming from senior officials in the US and Pakistan could not have been ignored by the independent media. Earlier events, statements and conduct of our now-sacked US Ambassador and recuperating President served as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that fitted a bit too easily into the explosive disclosures of the shady man, and it didn't help the government's case for hushing it up. In fact, the hectic meetings between the civil and military leadership that followed and the resultant resignation of Hussain Haqqani prove that the media was right in smelling the smoke and looking for the fire. When the PML-N took the matter to the Supreme Court, the PPP government saw it as undermining the sacred supremacy of Parliament. For its part, the PML-N says that its experience in the present Parliament forced it to approach the apex court. The opposition party's assertion that Parliament has proved itself to be ineffective in addressing its concerns, and that the institution has become little more than a rubberstamp of the President and his core committee, is hard to dismiss. What happens in its various committees and poorly attended sessions is not a secret, and if the government has failed to inspire the confidence of the opposition in the parliamentary system, that it insists on running from the presidency, it has only itself to blame for it. In fact, the conduct of the present government is the biggest reason for the erosion of trust in Parliament on part of not only the opposition, but also the general public. Things seem to have come to a dangerous head when replies submitted to the Supreme Court on the memo issue showed a wide divergence in the stance taken by the COAS and DG ISI on the one hand, and the federal government on the other. Ideally, this should not have created such a crisis, as the matter is before the Supreme Court and it will decide on who has the best argument and which reply holds more weight. Dictatorial unanimity among every State official should not be expected in a democratic setup in any case. The replies were sent through the proper channel and do not violate the Constitution. The meeting between the Prime Minister and the COAS was a good idea and very timely indeed. It has put the different positions on the memo issue in its proper perspective and put to rest rumours about a catastrophic confrontation between two important institutions of the State. Meanwhile, the repetitive PPP narrative is being thrown at the citizens with a renewed vigour. All the ghosts from the past have been recalled to life and are being bandied about by emotional jiyalas. The victimisation rhetoric is at its peak, complete with references to the martyrs and sacrifices of the party. The official party line is that it respects the independent judiciary and has excellent relations with the security establishment, but it does not stop the partymen from maligning these institutions by recounting the wrongs done in the past. Veiled and unveiled references to their present conduct is also thrown around. That is not the end of the PPP conspiracy theory. The opposition parties, no matter how loud they shout about their allegiance to the Constitution, are being accused of conspiring against democracy, and the media, no matter how solemnly it swears by democracy, is also a part of this unholy conspiracy. To get a clearer picture of the democratic process, the PPP wallas will have to stop viewing their party and leadership as the end-all and sum-total of democracy. After all, if the Supreme Court decides to take up the memo case and its findings lead to the impeachment of the President, there's nothing undemocratic about it. Similarly, if the opposition parties manage to build a popular movement that leads to the resignation of the government and holding of early elections, it would not be a violation of the Constitution. The people of Pakistan are at the heart of its democracy, but unfortunately they figure nowhere in the contemporary PPP democracy equation that reads like stuff out of a treatise on hereditary monarchy written in the last century. If the people vote out Bilawal's PPP for its poor performance in the next elections, will that be a conspiracy against democracy as well? The writer is an independent columnist. Email: