The fact that the former commando general opted to resign instead of facing the humiliation of the impending impeachment did not emanate from any love of the country, as he would have us believe. It was a decision based on the abject ground reality as it evolved after the passage of resolutions by overwhelming majority by the four provincial assemblies calling on him to secure a fresh vote of confidence from his electorate, or face the impeachment. Also, it was reflective of the reality that he had lost all his other so-called support planks that he depended upon: the army and the judiciary. This, inter alia, took care of his option of using 58-2(b) to dissolve the government and the assemblies. The ranting and raving of the miracles that he had bequeathed upon the country and its people was an effort to perpetuate a myth that has long since evaporated. Sadly, it is also clear that, under immense international pressure particularly from the United States of America and its bully-in-chief, the United Kingdom, his resignation was the culmination of a sordid behind-the-scenes deal that criminal and legal proceedings would not be initiated against him if he agreed to quit. It is difficult to state with certainty whether the understanding had the backing of all the political allies of the coalition though it seems difficult to fathom that such a critical decision could have been taken without every one having been on board. One is, therefore, constrained to believe that the principal demand of the people of Pakistan has been sacrificed at the altar of expediency by the ruling coalition. The demand of Musharraf's trial for a variety of constitutional violations and involvement in efforts to sow seeds of disunity and discontent among the people of Pakistan had the backing of over 80 percent people as numerous surveys have indicated in the recent part. It was, therefore, only natural to believe that the general would not be allowed a safe passage irrespective of whether he decided to resign, or face the impeachment. His carte blanche pardon, absolving him of all crimes, constitutional and criminal, reminds one of the circumstances of the promulgation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that indemnified the leaders of a particular political party from all cases registered against them for whatever crimes they may have committed. Is this the manner of returning a favour? Is this a masterful use of the art of the quid pro quo: I'll do for you what you do for me? Or is this the new yardstick by which governance is to be measured henceforth? Whether it may be either of the above, or a potpourri of all, I strongly believe that this is a grave travesty of justice and all forms of civilised behaviour and should be resisted with the full vigour and might by all segments of the civil society. Measures, constitutional and legal, should be used to have the decision reversed. Merely resigning from his ill-gotten position by one whose tenure, from the moment he took over power by abrogating the constitution to when he decided to quit in the face of the looming prospect of being impeached, is replete with decisions that gravely impacted the unity, sovereignty, integrity, in fact the very existence and survival of the country, is not sufficient ground for forgiveness. He must be made to face the trial just like any other common citizen of the country would be obliged to do. It is the failure of the political leadership at this defining moment in our history that casts a pall of gloom. This is a moment in the history of a nation that does not come often. It may never again get the opportunity to bury the curse of dictatorship and tyranny. It may never again be fortunate to have an overwhelming majority of the people of the country, from all the federating units, vociferously supporting the move to inflict the death knell on the perpetrators who are eager to deprive the people of their inalienable right to rule their destiny in conformance with the enshrining principles of equality and egalitarianism that had been outlined for them. It may never again come to pass that the people of the country are in an enviable position to charter a course that would open the doors of progress and prosperity for them. It may never be that they would have an occasion to define their fate and work to remove the discrepancies that separate the lords from the ones who are lorded over. This is the moment of truth. This is the moment when all filibustering should be resisted and recourse to concrete action initiated. This is the moment that should be seized. If the political leadership of the country has opted to surrender before the surrogates of despotism and arrogance, it is the people who should rise and fight for their inviolable rights. On the course to success, they would first have to dispense with the despicable remnants and vestiges of dictatorship that still occupy positions of power. General Musharraf's trial, in accordance with the provisions of the law of the land, remains integral to the success of any such effort. I firmly refuse to buy the argument that it would provoke a fight among various institutions of the state. On the contrary, if allowed to fester, the decision to grant a safe passage to General Musharraf would remain a lacerating wound inflicted on the conscience of the people that would constantly remind them of the inequity in applying the provisions of the law to the mighty on the one hand, and the underprivileged on the other. In the absence of a political will to take steps for the promulgation of the rule of law, as the NROed leader's continuing reluctance to restore the judiciary to its November 2 position amply demonstrates, a People's Commission should be instituted immediately to initiate the proceedings in that direction. The charter of the Commission should be clearly outlined with equitable representation from all segments of the society, including the judiciary, who have a stake in the emergence of Pakistan as a bastion of the rule of law as against where law is routinely trampled when it comes to dealing with those who may have ravaged it, in one capacity or the other. Like I said earlier, it is a defining moment in the history of Pakistan. What we do now, and what we don't, will have a lasting impact on the destiny of the country. The one way to extricate it out of the deepening quagmire is to enforce the writ of law, irrespective The writer is a media and political consultant based in Islamabad. E-mail: