However much I despise the callousness, corruption and narcissism of a degenerating ruling elite, I have never allowed that to define my attitude toward the country.-Tariq Ali on Pakistan Summer of 2007, I participated in an advocacy campaign in Europe with a few governments and MPs of the European parliament for free and fair elections in Pakistan. One of the points, of course, was for General Musharraf to quit so that the playing field became level. Another important point was to remove hurdles in the way of the exiled political leaders of the mainstream political parties so that the elections could be credible. There were several other issues that we raised but the one about the removal of General Musharraf is the most relevant to what I wish to state here. In this connection, the seven points platform on which Musharraf had dismissed an elected government and taken it over in October 1999 was a significant issue since, one by one, by 2007 they were all looking absurd in a dismal collapse. I decided to approach two prominent intellectuals of the Muslim League N and the PPP, respectively. They appear on different TV channels in a variety of programs and hold forth with much aplomb. Both civil activists, they were quite vocal in favor of the restoration of CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chowdhry. The issue of Musharraf's failed seven points was thus right up their alley, I thought. When I met them (separately) for a comment on the seven points, they both sounded very cooperative and enthused in the brief discussion we had and promised to critique Musharraf's points one by one in writing. Sadly, they never kept their word. But luckily, you did not need to know rocket science to describe the failure of Musharraf's policies and therefore our campaign ran smoothly. After the 18 February election this year, my Muslim League N friend became a federal Minister and remained one until his party took a policy decision to leave the cabinet on account of PPP backtracking on the restoration of the judges in spite of a written agreement to do so that both Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mr. Asif Zardari had signed. PML-N though remains a part of the ruling alliance in the centre with the PPP in the lead. Just as the PPP remains a part of the alliance in the Punjab, PML-N in the lead. The other is now managing a government income support fund. Their pre-election slogan of change forgotten, both are parts of an administration pursuing, ironically, their predecessors' policies; such being the demands of power politics. An administration that was spawned by internationally brokered deals. To be fair, I do not think they did not want Musharraf out; but this was not a glamorous exercise for them. I feel they would have jumped at the idea of a TV appearance even though their input in international advocacy and lobby would have been far more effective to expedite Musharraf's departure. After all, the western community was his mainstay for survival; domestically his rating was zero. Politicians want lime light and are hungry for publicity. Sans any political philosophy, they do not much care for ideals. Lobbying and advocacy is a slog: hard, concerted, focused work without much glamour. A TV appearance on the other hand is casual but glamorous. That is why you see them on the idiot box all the time, hardly ever in print. Pakistan is a country of over 160 million of hardworking people who are full of enterprise that helps them go far with very little. If you go to a downtown, roadside workshop or a small watch maker in a tiny kiosk, or an electrician, working with their hands and a minimum set of tools, you will see their ingenuity and innovation. For a pittance they will do for you (often with much better results) that a modern workshop will take a fortune for. Pariahs of the world today, they are in this miserable state because of corrupt elite that has always ruled this country. The paradox of Pakistan is that the potential is in the masses that are powerless; the ruling elite are dishonest but powerful. For too long in this country crooks and charlatans have ruled. But there are indications now that he is seeing through the intrigue. The recent power riots when people resorted to violence against WAPDA property, tore the electricity bills publicly and forced the government to withdraw the increase in electricity tariff is one sign of their mood. The ruling elite are, on the other hand, smug in their security cocoon, globe trotting from time to time. Disconnect between them and reality is widening by the day. What they do not see is the day of reckoning that fast approaches.