In excess of Hamlet's Denmark where a mere 'something' was perceived to be rotten, much rot has of late set into the Republic that is Pakistan. And this is how more and more people are seeing it as the days pass. The antics of those elected to rule, lead and legislate, and of those unelected who are in positions of power undreamt of a year ago are far from reassuring, and particularly so with the Taliban rapping on our back door and with the US stranglehold showing no signs of weakening. Shifting sands may well be part of the democratic process. Adjustments between coalition partners are part of the game, but rank disagreement is not. And despite the recently coined PPP slogan about democracy being the best revenge, democracy is not an instrument of vengeance, neither is ranting and raving of which we have had far too much over the past nine days or so. We have suffered a surfeit of talk about past sacrifices, the martyr complex is in the ascendancy. It is time for those who purport to lead to put the sacrificial meats behind them and get on with tackling the present multiple woes and ills.  And besides, the major sacrifices and the most in number have been made by the people of this country, the beloved awam, and not by those main propagators of sacrifices who are still with us and who have all prospered and thriven to heights unimaginable through their perceived sacrifices. Enough is more than enough. There is also more than enough of talk of vengeance and revenge it is all becoming frightening.  What is it that the two main propagators of revenge want, those two relics of the political scenario of the 1990s? We do not know, but presume that they do, and that they have their planned paths squarely set before them. Mian Nawaz Sharif has twice been a prime minister, but never all-powerful, because as long as the Pakistan army exists, and even if it appears to have withdrawn into the background, it has been and remains the most organized and by far the most powerful party of the land.  Mian Sahib found this out in 1999, after committing a blunder, and if he and his unelected partner in coalition continue along their path of reckless irresponsibility they may well again bring about their own downfall and that of the shaky form of democracy they have spawned. Sharif can never be content with sitting in the national assembly as a mere member.  Is he aiming at the presidency, a presidency that retains all its present powers?  To get into the presidential palace would of course be for him the perfect revenge as far as his battle with President, the now retired General, Pervez Musharraf is concerned. Similarly, where is bound Asif Zardari of the tiresome ubiquitous smile, after his unseemly and unsettling performance on the lawns of the Governor's mansion in Lahore on June 16, where he yet again threw down the gauntlet to Musharraf and promised that the Presidency would soon echo to the cries and slogans of the PPP jiyalas?  Equally appalling was his June 19 rant and rave at Jehangir Badr's book launch at Lahore. Is Asif aiming at being an all-powerful president, on a collision course with the Mian of Raiwind, after ditching that lamentably conceived and drafted constitutional amendment bill? Or does he want to push through his ungainly amendment bill, after redrafting it into some comprehensible and workable form, and then take over, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto style, as an all-powerful prime minister? (As an aside : Zardari's constant evocations of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto are not convincing as it is doubtful, knowing Zulfikar's regard for the Zardari family, whether, if alive, he would have been ultra delighted to welcome into his family Asif as a son-in-law.  And Zulfikar must be revolving in his grave knowing who it is who has hi-jacked his party and even threatened to ultimately occupy a nearby space in Garhi Khuda Baksh.) With both these presently unelected firebrands (Mian Sahib outdid himself on June 13 when he hi-jacked the 'long march') at odds with each other, and seemingly in competition, how does the nation fare?  It fares badly, and will continue to do so for as long as this political paralysis lasts and until one of the two rivals reigns supreme or gives up and quits. As for President Musharraf, if it is possible to do any further damage to his image, his so-called friends and advisors are busy doing so.  Rather than calling inane press conferences, with a selected few invited to hear his excuses, which only arouse public scorn, and rather than sending an emissary to complain that the government television channel, the awful PTV, is not giving him coverage, he would do far better to remain silent.  Stick to the golf course and the tennis courts, get back into form, receive foreign visiting firepersons, and let his hair grow gently grey as it should after the traumas he has been put through throw away the dye bottles. Musharraf has to go one day Asif, like God, claims that it will be at his timing (as will whatever else is to happen in the Republic). Logically, he should depart before President George W Bush relinquishes the White House. But once he is removed, or chooses quietly to ride off and away, where does that leave the two coalition partners? Literally at each others' throats? E-mail: arfc@cyber.net.pk