The long march, from Lahore to Islamabad was meant to pressurise the government to accept their demands. Anticipating a big surge, the government blocked all the major roads, leading to Lahore and Islamabad and deployed heavy contingent of security forces; called the reinforcement from Sindh and alerted the army to standby. Nawaz Sharif and other leaders were placed under house arrest. As a measure of security, Nawaz Sharif was warned of threat to his life, if he joined the protestors on the streets. The battle lines were thus drawn and the nation held its breath, with fear and despair, of the impending chaos and uncertainty that was expected to follow. Nawaz Sharif, smelled the conspiracy against him and threw away the security cover and broke the barriers, one after another and reached Kalma Chowk in Lahore. This was the moment, the masses were waiting for. They responded to the call of the leader, and surged towards the Kalma Chowk, the Mall and the Punjab High Court and within hours the entire area was swarmed with people from all walks of life. And as it moved to break the barrier on the Ravi Bridge, the game was over. The president, the prime minister and the army chief, closeted together to defuse the situation, before it was too late. They burnt the mid-night oil, to work out a compromise formula and asked the prime minister to make the announcement in the wee hours of March 16. The prime minister's announcements sent a wave of jubilation turning the 'Long March into a Victory March', which had hardly reached Muridke, only a few miles from Lahore. It indeed was a turning point and a defining moment for Pakistan and its people who have been struggling for their rights for over half a century. Let us therefore count some of the benefits of this landmark event: ? Justice, which is the anchor for a just social order, has taken the first leap towards an independent judiciary. ? The power of the people, henceforth will determine the course of democracy, leading to a sovereign Parliament. ? The armed forces have played their due role, to safeguard the nascent democracy, by maintaining its traditions of 1988.The national and the regional parties now stand together, to share power and conduct the business of the state, according to the people's verdict of February 18, 2008. ? After Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif has emerged as a popular national leader. He is the first such leader from Punjab, which is a good omen, because Punjab has been ruled by the feudal elite, denying peoples rights. This change will not only have a positive bearing for Punjab, but for Pakistan as well. ? The turbulent political atmosphere has suddenly morphed into a soft and soothing morning breeze. It will have a sobering effect on the peace process on our northwestern borders, from Swat to Bajaur, Waziristan and Balochistan. In fact, it will impact the peace process beyond the borders into Afghanistan. Farsighted people like Robert Gates of United States, have already sounded their government to follow Pakistan's example for peace in Afghanistan. President Obama's new strategy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, i.e.: "At the heart of Afghan policy is the smarter policy of Pakistan, the strategy to integrate military and civilian assets to stabilise Afghanistan and Pakistan," now needs to be modified, to read: "The way to success in Afghanistan is to integrate Pakistan's, socio-political assets with the peace process in Afghanistan." The 'military assets' must be kept away and out of Afghanistan. ? The lawyers and the judges who struggled for over two years making sacrifices, for the cause of justice and rule of law, have galvanised the civil society to rise for their rights. The civil society responded to their call and gave one big push to break down the floodgates of tyranny and injustice. Remarkable indeed ? The electronic and the print media, provided the bondage between the struggling masses and provided guidance to the political leadership and the instruments of the state, 'to act within the limits of human discretion' and restore peoples rights. This they did in the full view of the entire world. What a commendable performance, despite state oppression. ? In the recent past, we have witnessed 'rose', 'pink' and 'orange' revolutions. Ours is the 'Green Revolution' - serene, peaceful and soothing to the eyes, hearts and minds. What a blessing from Allah, for a country, subjected to so much of tyranny and terrorism, from within and outside. The Green Revolution is essentially wedded to our liberal and moderate Islamic orientation, which eradicates radicalism through a paradigm of peaceful co-existence. ? Our enemies have been calling Pakistan a failed state, who would now be feeling sorry for themselves. The international opinion will also change and foreign investment will start pouring-in. Domestic market will also pick-up momentum and if energy shortage were not the problem, business would pick-up with a fast pace. This day is a great moment for Pakistan. A defining moment indeed, offering challenges to the political leadership, to rise to the occasion and meet people's demand of 'establishing a robust democratic order' and the more difficult task of 'massive micro economic measures to improve the lot of the poor and the suffering people of Pakistan'. A daunting task indeed, under the global economic melt-down, which would need foresight, good planning and peoples power to gear up the economy and set its course in the right direction. The political leadership could not expect anything better, what the long march has offered to them. They asked for it. Shunning dictatorial dispensation, the state and the people must adhere to the lofty norms of democracy. Justice is the prime mover of the society. The people are now endowed with a zeal to struggle for the glory of Pakistan - a destiny ordained by its visionary founders. Confucius was very right in saying: "Our greatest glory is not in ever falling, but in rising every time we fall." The people have risen The writer is a former chief of army staff. E-mail: