A number of ideas contained in Maj Gen Athar Abbas's article on the ISPR website require comment. There can be hardly two opinions about the military's image having been damaged as a result of coups and martial laws followed by widespread corruption and the loosening of discipline in the Army. Military rules have not only hindered the growth of a tolerant political culture in the country but also had a detrimental effect on institutions of the state and civil society which need to be strengthened to sustain democracy. General Abbas needs to realize that these institutions cannot be nurtured and fortified under military rules which encompassed a decade each in two cases and eight years in the third. In the new country founded in 1947, political parties were no doubt weak and there was a crisis of leadership after the Quaid's death. Manipulations by bureaucracy, both civil and military, however played an important role in weakening the system. General Abbas's interpretation of the events leading to the 1958 Martial Law, emphasizing corruption and incompetence, is open to debate as there is enough evidence to show that the corruption that preceded Ayub was insignificant as compared to the levels subsequently witnessed under him. It was during 1958-1961, described in the article as a 'golden era,' when political, social and economic policies that sowed the seeds of separatism in East Pakistan were both formulated and implemented. In his quest for legitimacy, Ayub created a system of so-called Basic Democracies by raising a nursery of politicians loyal to him who in order to strike roots were provided government patronage. The system served as a template for experiments of the type subsequently conducted by Zia and Musharaf that institutionalized large-scale corruption. Maj Gen Abbas is all for the NSC as a forum for discussion of security matters between the civilian and military authorities. The forum as envisaged by Gen (retd) Musharraf was meant to act as a supra parliament and was rightly rejected by the opposition. As things stand the cabinet's Defence Committee is an appropriate place here the military can project its views. The article comes at a time when there is a lot of talk about the so-called 'minus one' formula. Prime Minister Gilani has called it a ploy to weaken and dislodge the PPP government. There have been suggestions that the idea has been launched at the behest of offstage players not happy with the advent of democracy. There is a need on the part of the Army to shed the Bonapartist tendencies, if any, because its role is to defend and not to govern the country.