It is indeed a great misfortune that a short time after the demise of Quaid-e-Azam, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan was also assassinated. The sordid conditions that were created thereafter by the so-called politicians led to army intervention which further weakened the institutionalised system of governance in Pakistan, a rot that has continued to this day. India, on the other hand, maintained the democratic culture despite far too many internal contradictions. We became the pariahs of the region. Alienation was a necessary concomitant, which resulted in the eventual loss of half the country. Our centralised orientation, or in the dictators' parlance, the so-called 'unity" of command', further ignored diversities and differences of opinion, the hallmark of a pluralistic society. No wonder we failed to create a 'system' that the world could look at with respect. Even at present, our hard-earned democracy, hardly a year old, is again drifting towards authoritarianism with all powers vested in one man, the President. The so-called 'split mandate' has been manipulated through Machiavellian methods to assure one-man-rule reminiscent of Pervez Musharraf. -SHAISTA SATTI, Rawalpindi, via e-mail, March 14.