General Musharraf's resignation last Monday brought his long tyrannical rule to an end. The inveterate enemy of democracy ceded power to the civilian authority just ahead of an imminent impeachment but the legacy he has left behind will continue to haunt this nation. Barely a day after his departure the fractious ruling coalition was seen squabbling over the presidency. The PPP being a major partner has arrogated to itself the right to hold all the top offices of the country and decided to nominate Asif Ali Zardari as the next president. The MQM has endorsed the move, and the ANP and the JUI-F are likely to follow suit while the PML-N wants the coveted slot to go either to Balochistan or the NWFP. Mian Nawaz Sharif may well think of letting Mr Zardari get into Musharraf's shoes after bringing him round to honour his commitment to restore the deposed judges through an executive order. The sticking point remains the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. If media reports are to be believed then the deal brokered by foreign mediators that led to Musharraf's exit left no room for the CJ to come back on the Bench. Mr Zardari having benefited considerably from the politics of deals knows how much it matters for him to honour the commitments he had made to his foreign guarantors. And that feeling gets stronger when he recalls that it was under a deal that Benazir Bhutto had returned from exile and it was her tragic assassination that catapulted him into a position from where he can dictate his views to others. After Musharraf's departure he feels doubly obliged to look after the interests of his foreign backers even at the expense of the commitments he often makes with his coalition partners and then turns away from them. The idea of restoring Chief Justice Chaudhry would simply give him nightmares since it would be like relegating himself to the ignominious past from where he emerged as a born-again democrat, making a new start in politics 'with a clean slate'. This is where his and Americans' interests converge. The Bush Administration would never want the defiant CJ to get reinstated and throw a spanner in the works by reopening the cases of missing persons who it believed had been trying to subvert the global fight against terrorism. Benazir too had no love lost for Justice Chaudhry for she and Musharraf were on the same page as far as curbing the elements extending patronage to the extremists was concerned. But despite the deal she gave a strong signal that she would not be playing second fiddle to the dictator. Exactly a fortnight after her homecoming when Musharraf declared Emergency and sacked superior judiciary she decided to alter her role from being a friendly opponent to a hostile foe. She knew that despite a power-sharing deal she had concluded with Musharraf she had the potential to galvanise people to take to the streets. Fast forward to November 9. Emerging from the heavily barricaded house in Islamabad where she was detained to prevent her from leading a rally to Liaquat Bagh she forced her way to the Judges Colony but was stopped from meeting the deposed CJ. The speech she delivered there bears repeating to her spouse: "We would launch a protest movement against the dictatorship and hoist Pakistani flag at the residence of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He is the real CJ and we'll restore him along with other deposed judges." She had managed to extricate herself from what Ron Suskind describes as a "deal room" in his new book The Way of the World. The book reveals that in a telephonic conversation with Benazir, Musharraf linked her security to the "state of our relationship." Ms Bhutto, who according to Suskind's account, returned home in a bid to "play under-the-table, cut-throat games" started capturing attention by sending disturbing signals to the outside world. She seemed to have felt incensed by Musharraf's coup against the judiciary, which came eight months after he had made an abortive attempt to force the CJ to resign. During her second detention in Lahore soon after being set free in Islamabad she was twice called on by an American diplomat. Two quick meetings less than a week apart could not simply be aimed at "conveying to her continuous US concerns about emergency." The second meeting took place just ahead of Mr Negroponte's abrupt dash to Pakistan on November 16. That he called up Ms Bhutto from Islamabad but did not come to see her in Lahore indicated that his emissary didn't get any encouraging response from her. Benazir was no longer prepared to play ball with the Americans. She had come considerably closer to the nation's demands for restoration of judges and was also seen snapping ties with Musharraf. Benazir was the upholder of Bhutto's legacy and a great politician in her own right. Zardari is neither. NRO being his Achilles' will prevent him from acquiescing in the coalition partner's demand for the reinstatement of the deposed judges. Instead he would do everything he could possibly do to provide a safe exit to their tormentor. E-mail: sarmad@nation.com.pk