IT would pain many in Pakistan to see a friendly neighbouring country suddenly facing the prospect of destabilisation. What is happening in Iran, however, is not difficult to explain. It is not possible at this day and time to stifle the democratic aspirations of the masses in the name of any ideology, secular or religious. Sooner or later, the people are bound to break the shackles and question the bona fides of any unelected authority, which tries to perpetuate control over their lives. While Iran possesses the formal appurtenances of democracy like an elected Parliament and President, in its content the system is thoroughly undemocratic as a small group of clerics holds control over levers of power. Unlike democracies, the Parliament is not supreme and its decisions can be vetoed by an unelected Guradian Council, which has also the constitutional authority to vet electoral candidates. Over 400 aspirants for the Presidency, including all the female potential candidates, were disqualified by the Council. The authority to appoint the commanders of the armed forces, chief judges, prosecutors as well the 12-member Guardian Council does not lie with the elected President, but with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who has held the position since 1989 when he was selected by the Assembly of Experts, comprising religious scholars. All crucial policy decisions relating to internal or external affairs are taken by the clergy rather than Parliament. One-party rule, irrespective of whether the ruling oligarchy seeks legitimacy in the name of religion or a secular ideology, sooner or later causes schisms among those holding the levers of power. Social contradictions start getting reflected in the ruling elite itself. It is understandable, therefore, that 30 years of incumbency should have led to divisions among the clerics. Among the reflections of this is the challenge posed by reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former Prime Minister and thus an insider, to conservative President Ahmadinejad. That during the election campaign, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani was charged with corruption by Mr Ahmadinejad and his close relatives briefly arrested last week also indicates a split in the ruling elite. The media in Iran remains under strict control. The government has debarred reporters, both local and foreign, from live coverage, forcing them to depend on official briefings and whatever information they can gather on the telephone. Thanks to the revolution in information technology, it is no more possible to construct an iron curtain anywhere now. What is needed on the part of the Iranian leadership and the opposition is to resolve the issue peacefully instead of taking recourse to force.