President Musharraf doffed his uniform reluctantly and 'democracy', though battered, demoralised and rendered fragile under recurrent martial laws did make its appearance on the political horizon only to give a false hope of Pakistan's transformation into a stable political order after February 18, 2008, deviating from the chronic dictatorial mind-set of our polity. It was expected that the chronic legacies of the Musharraf era would soon end and the 'pillars' that sustain a country's viability would be strengthened through political consensus. A very sound step was taken by General Kayani to withdraw the army from the civilian set-ups and Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) was exclusively tasked to concentrate on combat intelligence relevant to professional requirements, renunciating its political role which was assigned to it by the civilian government of Bhutto. These were very laudable steps and indeed quite necessary to put life-blood into the civilian institutions, which were rendered subservient to an 'individual' - the military dictator - a paradigm which is 'anachronistic' and the Napoleonic Era is a "primitive" stage in the evolution of participatory political culture. The post-February 18 era did galvanise the nation towards establishing 'democracy', adhering to the sacrosanct norms of democratic governance. The elections were, by and large, fair and transparent and no party got absolute majority. The Peoples' verdict was to steer the system through coalition and sense of 'togetherness'. People were indeed wise to give a divided verdict so that the political parties learn to operate through 'give and take' approach. Musharraf's worst onslaught was on the judiciary, which tried to be relatively more independent than what the dictator could tolerate. He summarily dismissed sixty judges of the Supreme Court by imposing the so-called 'emergency' as a COAS and through high-handed manipulations managed to contain his hold over the reins of power. The judges who took oath under PCO, irrespective of the image and respect of the judiciary in the country and beyond just acted on the dotted lines provided by the military ruler. This, the national sensibility could not endure and Lawyers' Movement was a true reflection of the peoples' faith and commitment to the rule of law and the judiciary to be respectable as totally independent institution to serve as a vital pillar which could provide 'justice' as justice should appear to be. The Lawyers' Movement may be characterised as a 'shinning' example of expression of public opinion to be accepted and endorsed by the government. Over five lakh people demonstrated in favour of restoring the deposed judges and in a respectable society, particularly democratic in character, the "Will" of the people would have been implemented. Promises were made, oral as well as written and the president even signed the commitments made to PML-N, but reneged on his words. The CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry is still not reinstated besides solemn promises. This was the first blow to the nascent democracy. Zardari not only became a king-maker, he catapulted himself to be the elected President of Pakistan. Contrary to the norms of 'parliamentary democracy', the president is functioning as the 'chief executive' and not a representative of the federation, which in all fairness, the president should be. A party chief, if he is elected president, must relinquish his earlier position. Having both would tantamount to wielding absolute power, no less than that of a military dictator. Therefore it should be remembered that the prime minister was elected through Parliament as per norms of the system. The Parliament which is supposed to be supreme body has been rendered to be a show-piece. This is another great blow to the emerging democracy. Nawaz Sharif, the leader of PML-N, has been totally hoodwinked by the manipulations and political chicanery of the federal government that promised to do away with the controversial 58-2(b) and the notorious 17 amendment, of the Musharraf regime ala courtesy Fazalur Rahman. The promises have not been honoured. So what has changed? Do people perceive the present dispensation a really democratic one? There is total crisis of credibility. The system is essentially a civilian dictatorship camouflaged with structural paraphernalia like the National Assembly, a whole lot of ministers, ministers of state and advisors with great drainage on national exchanger. The favourites are being accommodated in all positions of power and privileges. The most important ministers like the Ministry of Interior and Law have been given to those who were not 'elected' by the people. The only redeeming feature is that the government of Punjab is functioning in the supreme interest of the province. It is the height of sycophancy that the governor wants to convert Punjab into Larkana - a PPP stronghold. Even military dictators would not have relished such 'crude' expressions of flattery. The PPP workers are as disillusioned as the opposition parties, who had pledged to support the government and allow it to complete its tenure, but the indications are rather ominous. The prime minister should be respected and consulted on all national and international issues. Undoubtedly it was the PM's prerogative to decide who will break the news with respect to Kasab's nationality. Durrani professed that he obeyed to the "boss" in making the announcement. If the national security advisor does not 'know' who the real "boss" is in 'parliamentary democracy', it is indeed very unfortunate, and yet the US administration is pleading for his restoration on the job. Even this much latitude they are not prepared to grant to Pakistan to select its own security advisor. What kind of democracy do we have? It is all farcical devoid of all norms of propriety and good governance. Why is that, the country when run by the army chief, tries to function like a "democratic dictatorship," while the civilian government operates like a "dictatorial democracy?" That is the fine distinguishing feature of the two. The question is why are we so authoritarian and control-oriented nation? More than feudalism, the curse is the feudalistic mindset, which is operating at every level of governance. There is chronic indecision to do away with the vestiges of authoritarian - 17 amendment and 58-2(b). Democracy is 'puerile' with such aberration. Russell rightly commented: "Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile." The writer is a political analyst E-mail: