Most times, there is just the one opportunity. Fortune has favoured Pakistan to be the recipient of multiple opportunities, not just multiple but multiple golden ones. Ironically, they have not flourished, wasted in fact. Like Pervez Musharraf's legacy, Pakistan's own is of one of lost opportunities. It has continued to look a gift horse in the mouth and allowed them to slip away. Fortune favours the brave it is said, and a brave nation we are. So here it goes again, with President Musharraf's resignation yet another golden opportunity to act with wisdom and foresight, as a united nation, and achieve the goals established sixty-one years ago, is as good as they come. The vacuum created by his departure will itself be a test of the mettle of our democratic leadership. The last time this happened democracy lunged at the opportunity and within a decade had literally "nuked" itself. Today everything democratic is being put to a rigorous test. Government has cause to celebrate. The prime minister has congratulated parliament on finally attaining sovereignty. The "democracy is the best revenge" slogan rings loud. Yousuf Raza's speech was moving but he failed to deliver what the nation is waiting for. From this very floor four months ago he announced the release of the illegally detained judges. He did not restore them that day. Nor did he do that yesterday. What is one to make of this dichotomy? The birth of sovereignty, democracy and independence of the judiciary could have all been on the same day. Making August 18 the Day of Deliverance. He wasn't destined to make history. Two golden opportunities to fulfil the mandate of the people. Wasted. Nawaz and Zardari are the beneficiaries of extreme fortune too. Under normal circumstances, history would have judged them harshly for blowing the previous tenures of democratic government. But Musharraf's inability to nurture and secure a successor during almost a decade at the helm, unlike Ayub and Zia, has left the field wide open to them. It is "even stevens" today; both these leaders stand on their own now. It can go either way. The past shows that political existence of government without the inherent backing of the military establishment has been virtually impossible. BB, during that infamous decade, in both terms failed to stabilise her governments due to this. Even the fact that she had a handpicked president in the second term didn't support it. Nawaz, too, although he was not as isolated as BB from the establishment, could not capitalise. Even his handpicked president failed to deliver when he took the establishment on. There is no reason to believe that the situation is any different now. except for the other dimension to the equation, america. Zardari is no Bhutto. His political support is by proxy. The onus is on him to sustain and build it. The question is does America support him enough to for the establishment to keep its hands off. The mentality needs to change. When the prime minister of the country keeps harping on the fact that a grade 22 officer of his government is neutral and supportive, it does not generate much confidence in democracy. Nawaz is said to be taboo to the United States. But his support from the people is personal. In the Punjab it is already immense and it is growing. The establishment, civil and military, is dominated by this segment of our society. Here the question is will it work towards garnering US support for him. The scale is very evenly balanced. The cards are on the table. Winner takes all are the stakes. There is no Musharraf anymore. Both Nawaz and Zardari have never had to taste defeat in the real sense. They have been ousted in the past not defeated. Deep within, the feeling of defeat is not known to either. However, this is a reality that every political entity should be aware of. And in many defeats there is victory. Provided of course lessons are learnt. Neither have they coalesced with each other before. There is a huge cultural difference between the two parties. For Pakistan's sake, to heal the great wounds inflicted by insensitive governance, it is imperative that these differences are overcome. The coalition must succeed in the short-term to fill the current vacuum. The abounding fear is that with the alleged object of hate removed political differences will hinder smooth continuance. Another school believes Musharraf's removal was not common cause but forced upon Zardari by dwindling political support due to the inactivity in fulfilling the main demands of the people. Similar to BB's posture change when realisation dawned that the political swing was going the other way just before her tragic murder. Musharraf's departure they say has weakened Zardari. But that it has strengthened Nawaz. Be that as it may, the coalition partners need quickly to agree on priorities and objectives to ensure another opportunity to develop democracy is not thwarted. It is very pertinent that the coalition at present has the numbers and the tacit support of the people to make valid changes to the constitution. It must act quickly to repeal bad laws that Musharraf for years dilly-dallied on. It must revert to the original spirit of the 1973 document legislating amendments necessary in the 21st century. But intellectual thought of a vision for the next twenty years is of essence. For years now like-minded thinkers have pitched hard for the presidential form of government. It has the inherent strength to develop sustainable democratic institutions. Parliamentary democracy as is evident in the country is not conducive to sustainability. The prime minister does not command the direct support of the party or people. The job, at least that of the past three incumbents (minus Shujaat), has been reduced to that of a 'political agent'. Others control the strings; the PM is just a front. Someone said to me, "If they take the decisions and still want to hold me accountable, they have to be crazy" Think about it " it's true. A peoples' elected president will be an entirely different ball game. The intrinsic strength of direct political support will be a deterrent to all undemocratic forces. The debate on this power or that will come to an immediate end. Governance will dominate the efforts of government and deliver to the people what is their just due. The demands of governance today require expertise, correctly empowered, to deal with the economic situation and law and order. Expertise that is not available in the political entity. Political expediency must not be allowed to control the destiny of the nation. It has to be merit and development even, at times, at the cost of popularity. The fear of autocratic rule that dominates this idea, I believe has also now been addressed. The success of this present impeachment process will ensure that even the peoples' president would be chastened. At this moment we are facing a grave crisis making it even more important for political games to come to an immediate end. Linking one thing to another in order to gain mileage is causing serious concern among the people. The headlines this morning are not cause for celebration. Caution is of great necessity because fortune is not endless, it runs out. As do opportunities. Time for Pakistan is ticking. The writer is a Karachi-based political analyst E-mail