THAT Newsweek should have placed Gen Ashfaq Kayani 20th on a list of 50 most powerful persons in the world is yet another indication of how many view the civil-military balance of power in Pakistan. Despite General Musharraf's departure in August after nine yeas in power, eight of them in uniform, a number of vital spheres still remain under the supervision of the armed forces. The three major tasks listed by the magazine that General Kayani is supposed to perform i.e. controlling the nuclear button, looking after the battle against Al-Qaeda and its allies, and managing tensions with neighbouring India, should come in a normal parliamentary democracy under the Prime Minister's purview. While key security agencies are generally headed in democracies by civilians, the ISI is headed by a general. This has led Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee to challenge Pakistan's status as a genuine democracy having only one centre of power. It has been noted by Newsweek that General Kayani considers himself a 'committed democrat.' The steps that he took soon after taking over as COAS, which included directing the Army to remain totally apolitical, pledging to carry out the directives of the elected government and withdrawing scores of serving military personnel from civilian jobs, would support his claim. General Kayani, however, heads an institution that has played a dominant role in national politics for 34 years directly, and for most of the remaining period indirectly. While Generals with Bonapartist tendencies were mainly responsible for the military takeovers, politicians too have done their bit to clear the decks for them. Instead of sharing power with their opponents or even showing tolerance for them, they have indulged in infighting, a tendency, which they have not yet completely gotten rid of. The army having been in power for more than half of the life of the country, it would be difficult to agree with General Kayani that military coups are like temporary bypasses, built while bridges are under repair after having collapsed. Rather, bypasses have become the highway. Democracy has returned to Pakistan after nine years of military rule. Extra care is needed to preserve and strengthen it. The government needs to act responsibly to be able to wield full power. Attempts to concentrate powers in an individual against the spirit of the 1973 Constitution, which envisages a parliamentary system, is extremely harmful. It has to make necessary compromises and take all major political forces on board. The opposition has to act responsibly. This alone can ensure that there is not only a complete transfer of power, but also an uninterrupted continuation of the democratic system.