Ours is a decadent democracy - a form without substance, a puppetry of a puerile sensibility. The puppeteer - USA - decides when shall we be transformed into dictatorship and when to switch on to make belief democratic dispensation of governance. Iskandar Mirza, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, General Yahya Khan and General Ziaul Haq were imposed by the successive US presidents, as for them subservience to USA was more important than a robust democratic governance. They were comfortable with dictators, as it was much easier to manipulate them, than an elected leader, who is accountable to the Parliament and judiciary. Dictators are quite handy, as their compliance is all that matters. Real democratic leader, preserves the sovereignty of the state, no matter what price the nation has to pay. Democratic leader can never defy national interest as it is of paramount value - a sort of symbiotic relationship between him and his people. The menace of dictatorial control in this region was the installation of Shah of Iran - as an absolute ruler of Iran, and for preserving the US interests in the region. As long as he remained in power, the US interests were well-served. The rich energy reservoir of Iran, was controlled by USA and its oil barons drew maximum benefits and Iran barely got the return of its rich reservoirs. Sometimes, it had to import oil for local consumption. People became totally disenchanted by the totalitarian rule of the Shah and his exceedingly pro-western policies made him utterly unpopular. Mussadiq emerged as a charismatic leader to replace the Shah. He dwelt into the hearts and souls of people. But to the British and US oil predators, democracy was an impediment to be dispensed with. The old colonialists, being ruthless Empire builders, justified any oppression deemed necessary for their domination and control. It's variant - neo-colonialists - do it through lies, deceit and deception by projecting themselves as upholders of great values of 'western' civilisation - human rights, democracy and all those empty rhetoric's, behind which lurks the passion to dominate and control the wealth, particularly the energy reservoirs to augment their affluence. This in turn, energises them to maintain 'primacy' over the affairs of the world. Through a vicious collusion they ousted the well-respected leader of Iran - Mussadiq - and reinstalled their crony - the Shah of Iran to sustain their imperial propensities. When the all-powerful Shah, with exploitation of his own people and total servility to USA as a surrogate of its interest, reached a point of boiling discontent, Imam Khomeni emerged on the scene to steer a revolution, which completely washed off the legacy of the Shah, and to restore among its people a sense of pride and freedom, which lend meaning and substance to democracy. The sham democracy of the Shah, not only was despised but the wave of hatred against it, made Shah such an unwanted person that no country including its mentor - USA - was prepared to provide him a shelter - as if the whole world totally shrank for him. He died miserably in Panama, as Alexander Pope expresses in a poem: "Thus let me live unseen and unknown and unlamented let me die and steal from the world, and not a stone shall tell where I lie." This was the death, which became the destiny of the 'Shah' who used to be a symbol of pelf and power, in the region. Such is the ignominious end that nemesis slowly but inexorably brings to tyrants and perpetrators of miseries to innocent people. Khomeni is the metaphor of retribution. He salvaged his people from the kind of liberalism, which promoted sensuous vulgarity, and restored the sacrosanct values of piety, truth and justice. It was a great ethical revolution, which changed the direction of the society. The West hates and despises it as a 'rogue country', but can not harm it, as its strength is the intangible 'will' and commitment to preserve the unity and dignity of the nation. Pakistan became the victim of the US imperial domination after being ousted from Iran, where despite all machinations to bring about a regime change to serve the US interests failed miserably. The option to use military power of USA and Israel, for which they had even carried out an extensive rehearsal but "desire" could not be translated into action, as Iran's capability to react and inflict intensive damage to Israel, and also destroy USA's military concentration in the region, acted as a formidable deterrence. The successive military rulers in Pakistan had practically bartered our freedom, for their own individual interests. More than half of the period of Pakistan's existence, is a shameful episode of military dictatorship. The 'civilian' rulers, had only the illusion of being independent. One has to read the remarkable book The myth of the Independence by Z. A. Bhutto, who was the champion of Muslim unity, the architect of Pak-China friendship and above all the main force behind making Pakistan a nuclear power. Despite all restraints, sanctions and impediments created, Pakistan was able to give befitting reply to India's nuclear detonation in May 1998, only after a span of two weeks. Bhutto was a great visionary who built up the resilience of Pakistan, which the USA could not reconcile to. General Ziaul Haq was used as a instrument to hang Bhutto, which was based on a fake trial - considered a judicial murder, a member of the Supreme Court Judicial team made a belated confession. It is indeed ironical that through the self-serving generals, USA transformed the judiciary into pliant entity just to legalise what usually were blatantly 'illegal'. Late Justice Munir is a classic case who degraded Pakistan's judiciary to a most deplorable level. The so-called legal wizard - Sharifuddin Pirzada - is a living symbol providing "legitimacy" through the perversion of law, termed: "Law of Necessity" in order to impose martial law. Perhaps, no single individual has done as much harm as done by him to the derailment of democracy. Such type of supporters and sycophants, became very functional for dictators who need that egos to be blown out of portion to think as if they were really statesmen of great stature and thus quite: 'indispensable'. Who remembers the self-styled Field Marshal Ayub Khan, General Yahya Khan or General Ziaul Haq, after their 'death', the so-called indispensable ones. General Pervez Musharraf is the living specimen of how for his 'self-interest', he could stoop to any level to obey the US commands on dotted lines. He would not have left despite the cumulative hatred he had earned for the people of Pakistan, if Bush would not have realised his 'liability after full utilisation. Moreover, Mr Zardari and Nawaz Sharif conceived a very effective plan to dismount the dictator from the pedestal of power. Only those, who were the 'beneficiaries' of the authoritarian rule, perhaps felt disturbed - 'Q' League politicians and cheer leaders who always gravitate around 'dictators', capitalising their latent urge to look taller than their real size. The more the character failings of the dictator would come to light, greater would be the urge on their part to join the 'bandwagon', and desert him, rather than be 'on the line of fire'. February 18, 2008, is a date, which the nation must be proud of, as this was the day of deliverance. It was a clear signal to dictator's departure from the political arena, and a giant step forward for the emergence of 'true democracy'. The start was indeed commendable as coalition of big parties, PPP and Muslim League (N), could face the manifold problems, as a legacy of one man's rule in the country. The restoration of the deposed judges, including the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would have established a very noble tradition that the acts which were illegal and unconstitutional could have been corrected and consequently no dictator in future would have dared indulge in legal aberrations. The PPP's procrastination was rather unfortunate. Despite commitments made in written and verbal, were blatantly defied. Muslim League (N) reluctantly left the coalition. It is not very ominous. The spoilers of democracy are preparing grounds for political confrontation between the two big parties in Punjab. Small political parties are bargaining for grabbing prestigious and "juicy" ministries. The 'covert' agents of Bush are busy distorting realities and paving conditions for subversion. The non-elected ones are the wielders of real power as they serve their mentor, the US President. Mr Zardari has emerged as the most 'powerful' leader and contrary to the spirit of democracy where power should be balancingly shared. Parliament is yet to be empowered. Unless people perceive this transformation it is futile just taking recourse to rhetoric's. A real transformation of the society to democratic governance is the prime need. Mr Zardari's credibility would further sink if 58-2(b) and 17th amendment are not annulled as promised without delay. Democracy in Pakistan is precariously poised. Mr Zardari would be remembered in history if the 'power' is not concentrated in one individual. If one were to determine one single factor, responsible for the dismemberment of Pakistan, and all the political maladies, it is over centralisation of power. This syndrome unfortunately still persists, which makes the true lovers of democracy, rather dismayed and disappointed. But there is a ray of hope. The army shall not let the conspiracies being hatched by Raw, Mossad or CIA to bear fruition. It will be a bulwark against the three Ds' - Destabilisation, De-nuclearisation and De-democratisation of Pakistan. The politicians must rise above 'self' to provide full support to our armed forces. Democracy must be given a helping hand by every one, oblivious of political affiliation. It is a moment of great peril - one wrong step and we go down the abyss. The nation is in need of a visionary. As George Pompidou - a French statesman very ably puts it: "A statesman is a politician who places himself at the service of the nation. A politician is a statesman who places the nation at his service." We have had enough of the last category. The nation is in desperate search of the former kind, to transcend decadent democracy. The writer is a researcher and a political analyst Email: fr786pak@isb.comsats.net.pk