Of late, some developments have taken place on the political front that do not augur well for the functioning and continuation of democracy in the country. It appears some sections of 'political opinion' are in a hurry to fix up things. There is little realisation that the country is up against many grave external and internal challenges with our western and eastern borders exposed to dangers. At a time when national unity is the minced of the hour to effectively respond to challenges, dissentions and division for scoring political points leave bad taste in the mouth. Democracy needs uninterrupted continuation for delivery of services; it is not a magic wand to solve age-old issues. The beauty of democracy is that it accepts diverse and at times conflicting views on a given set of issues. Democracy is characterised with diversity in unity and unity in diversity. For most part of its existence, Pakistan has been ruled by dictators. Political leadership has been on trial for real and alleged mistakes thereby leaving little space for effective functioning of democracy. Institutions of the state gradually weakened and personalised governance became our national hallmark. Nations often have to go through painful evolutionary processes. Going by the recent history of the world, it becomes certain that those countries now 'commanding the destiny' of the world were in similar chaotic conditions as is the case with the third world countries. Pitted against seemingly insurmountable odds that threatened the existence of the countries, what really enabled them to overcome these crises and turn threats into opportunities was the internal strength produced by unity within diverse set of opinions. There is no doubt about the fact that Pakistan is also passing through a painful transition from a dictator-led country to a democratic one. Unfortunately there were no systems and structures left to make consensus-based decisions as the country continued to be governed by a military dictator for nine long years without the participation of any stakeholder. February 18 elections heralded a new beginning for Pakistan as people voted for the democratic forces by defeating the remnants of the dictatorship. Upon taking over with the support of nation, the democratically elected government inherited a large number of crises. Finding short- and long-term solutions to these raging issues is not an easy task. However, there is a fundamental difference between the approaches employed by this government and the previous one. In the previous regime, the decisions were taken by a single man without involving the stakeholders with Parliament only rubber-stamping them. So the Parliament did not have any concrete role to play in the policy formulation. This resulted in robbing this august institution of the respect and sanctity it deservedly is entitled to as the elected chamber. There are a few occasions when political forces of the country showed political wisdom in the larger national interest. The adoption of historic anti-terror resolution by Parliament was a positive development. It indicated the elected government's resolve to give a national response to national problems. Then again in view of threats from the Indian side after the Mumbai Mayhem, all religious amid political parties extended their support for the government. It is fortunate that there is a complete consensus over the broader national security issues between the political and military leaderships. The military top brass has made it clear in no uncertain terms that they are concerned with operational matters, while the decision-making rests with the elected government. Due to this the armed forces have achieved numerous successes against the militants, which are duly acknowledged by the international community. Success against bigoted and militant forces is important for the country's survival and stability. It should be remembered that our political forces have found a rare opportunity to allow democracy to take root. There are, of course, problems and no one should take his eyes off from them but these problems cannot be wished away. We need to take on them head-on in a realistic manner rather than getting bogged down by their enormity. Any repeat of the politics of 1990s would do irreparable damage to the cause of democracy and representative rule. Our masses expect that the politicians have learnt the necessary lessons from the past. Do not frustrate their expectations. In the final analysis, it is the continued support of the people that is the most important ingredient for success of our latest experiment with democracy. For this to be possible, rising above partisan political divisions and agreeing on a minimum set of norms is a must. The writer is a freelance columnist