Dr Haider Mehdi The bottom line is: Bakray ki mah kab tak khair manaiy gi. (My apologies, this Urdu euphemism cannot be translated into English without the distortion of exact meanings). Social scientists, by and large, are generally extremely perceptive people. It is so because they spend their entire lifetime trying to understand human behaviour and its pros and cons, political conduct and its sociology, leadership dynamics and its impacts on nations and international relations, social psychological processes in national and global conflict behaviour and its resolutions, technology, media and its effects on societal developments, and the rise and fall of civilisations and its causes. In short, the conceptual elements and phenomenology of human existence; indeed, history and philosophy included. The study of science, in itself, is of great importance in the contemporary technological global civilisation. Hence, it is not an accident that social scientists, academics, social theorists and scientists are in the forefront of national policy-making and political advisement in most advanced nations, globally. The sad irony in a country like Pakistan is that the acquired existential wisdom (matters related to human existence) gained through knowledge and socio-political inquiry is, generally, a wasted commodity. The affairs of the state, historically, are run by vested interests and the political elite, including some army generals, whose personal and institutional interests are in direct conflict with the overall interests of the masses. This injudiciously and non-ingeniously designed political reality causes politics, in itself, to become an artless, skill-less and brutal infringement on the political-economic-social-cultural rights of the majority of the nation's citizens. Politics, in Pakistan, is being practiced for the benefits of the select few. Meanwhile, the nation at large is considered a non-entity, deserving none of the attention that is its fundamental prerogative. The land of the pure, Pakistan, lays in wasted ruins at this stage of its political history. The tragedy and the atrocity of this political "ruin" is being witnessed anew now in the so-called democratic Pakistan. The battle is old: the entire ruling elite is fighting for its privileged existence and the continuity of its political-economic dominance at the cost of the masses. Obviously, at stake is the public's welfare and the future existence of this nation. Even in this precarious national crisis, just a handful of hardcore perfunctory political actors are being consulted and are providing political advisement to the incumbent leadership in this country. Social scientists and media analysts are not being heard (nor were they heard before) - Naqqar khane meh tooti ki avaz kaun sunta hai (who would listen to the counsel of sanity in this insane world) - consequently the state of a political abyss in Pakistan continues, uninterrupted. A week after the military coup in 1999, the writer of this article, in a letter to General Musharraf, warned that his regime's interference in trying to destabilise Afghanistan on the urging of the US President, George W Bush, would have utterly destructive effects on Pakistan's future. Not unexpectedly, this word of warning was totally ignored. As it has turned out, however, my forewarning was absolutely accurate. Again, after the incumbent leadership took the reins of power in Islamabad, in an email to Ambassador Hussain Haqqani, this writer warned: considering the emerging oligarchic nature of PPP's governing structure and the inherent political dangers implicit in such an organisational set up, it is imperative that this administration constitute an independent Pakistan Centre for National and International Dialogue. This centre would be staffed by unaffiliated and independent scholars, social scientists, scientists and theorists to be assigned the task of advisement to the government, on a non-party basis, the assessment on national policies, public opinion, government efficiency and political management and on all aspects of its political performance including the foreign policy and the role of the opposition in Parliament. This centre would provide "built-in" safeguards against government excesses and continuous feedback on the possible over-zealousness of a party's "power-centric" politics. The advice was not only ignored; it was not even acknowledged. Earlier, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, when he was prime minister, said: Miti paoo ji to this proposal. C'est la vie... Here is some advice to the President of Pakistan: If your intentions are honourable and you wish to serve the people of Pakistan, their democratic aspirations and carve a place for yourself in the annals of democratic Pakistan, you have the following options: ? First and foremost, ask all accused members of your political management team to resign voluntarily from their political offices. It is a legitimate and ethical course of action in a parliamentary form of democratic structure; if later proven innocent of their alleged crimes, they will stand restored with total dignity and the masses' confidence and support behind them. ? Constitute a National Commission composed of Supreme Court judges. This commission should prepare a complete list of your alleged assets in the country and overseas banks and properties. You should appear before this commission in a nationally televised hearing. You should either deny or accept the ownerships: if you deny then the assets go to Pakistan's national treasury and you are restored with full honour and dignity to the presidency for the rest of your tenure and perhaps as a "national hero" for another term of office. ? Should you accept the ownership of these assets, then you must justify them by declaring the lawful sources of your income. A legitimate defence in this manner will be a boost to your personal integrity and entrepreneurship and you will come out as a "hero." Consequently, the lengthy and destructive legal battles and their political fallouts will be spared - and so would your presidency. ? Should you fail to legally justify your ownerships, you should resign. This course of action would be a dignified exit consistent with the norms of the highest political office in the land. The point is that an ethically bankrupted leadership is a dead end - it is not a device for face-saving nor a process of legitimate right to the leadership of a country or any of its offices. Let me say this bluntly: the present course of action of institutional confrontation taken by the administration may prolong the present political impasse in the country - but mark my words - it is not a lasting substitute or remedy for fixing political problems or make them go away (while Aitzaz Ahsan might suggest otherwise). The fact is that a self-belief in one's own innocence cannot be the basis of a political redemption. I am sure that a majority of social scientists will agree with me. Be mindful, the politics of an awakened nation has its own dynamics - at times full of surprises loaded with unpredictability and revolutionary outcomes. Do not take chances with this nation anymore - note here the emphasis on the concept of "an awakened nation"... It must have been a cruel and yet honest and perceptive for social scientist who coined the euphemism: Bakray ki mah kab tak khair manaiy gi. As a farsi poet said: Sukhan-shinas na dil-bara khata in-jast (the trouble is that the people do not see the point). The writer is a professor, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert. Email: hl_mehdi@hotmail.com