THE MQM Chief, Altaf Hussain, has declared that his party would support patriotic army generals martial law against corrupt politicians. He made this declaration while addressing a general workers convention in Karachi from England. He asked patriotic generals to take action against unscrupulous politicians, which could include martial law. Obviously, this has caused concern across the country since the democratic system is still fragile in Pakistan and for any leader to seem to want the return of military rule is rightfully a cause for deep concern. The timing is also significant, since the country is seeing a total absence of civilian government in the flood-stricken areas in contrast to the very visible presence of the military. Beyond the flood crisis also, there is the deteriorating law and order situation reflected at different levels, from the target killings of Karachi to the savage murder of two young men in Sialkot to the police attack against women medical students in Bahawalpur. However, this does not mean that the reappearance of military rule will resolve any of these problems. After all, some of these issues stem directly from the military rules of the past which have dominated Pakistans political history to date which have left our society dangerously militarised. That is why we have been seeing resort to violence as the arbiter of all disputes and conflicts. In fact, unless we allow our democracy to take proper root, we will continue to vacillate between unproductive and increasingly corrupt military rule and inept and corrupt civil governments. It is also interesting to see the MQM Chief refer to patriotic generals thereby insinuating that not all generals fit this description. But who will decide which generals are patriotic? We have already seen the label of patriotic and unpatriotic being hurled at political friend and foe respectively and it serves no useful purpose. Instead of seeking a reversion to military rule, the political leaders should themselves lead by example and show how they offer an honest and efficient alternative to the present set of rulers. In this connection, it would serve the Pakistani body politic much better if political leaders also come back to their country and then lead from the front rather than through long distance politicking. Mr Altaf Hussain, if he feels strongly about seeking a patriotic generals takeover, would do better to come back to Pakistan and convince a skeptical public that such a military rule will benefit Pakistan despite the fact that our experience of being under military rule for most of our existence has not paid dividends.