Pakistan has recently achieved a great deal in terms of strengthening its democratic structure - transparent and fair elections have been held, majority parties/coalition partners have peacefully formed their governments at the centre and in provinces, the prime minister and chief ministers took oath without dispute, Musharraf was forced to resign and Zardari was democratically elected as President of Pakistan by the Parliament. However, in Pakistan's history such democratic processes have been invariably fatally interrupted by some kind of presidential or army related usurpation. Why is this so? Is there any defect in our political culture? We have to analyse and discover how our political culture has shaped our destiny? In present circumstances where the rising wave of terrorism, invasion by US and economic crises are a constant threat to democracy, the answer to this question becomes all the more important. A country's political culture is fashioned by its unique historical developments which get transmitted across the sum of "fundamental values and provides the setting for all political activities." When we talk of "a democratic political culture" in a society what we want to find out is whether or not all or some of the common features found and prevalent in known democracies are practiced and treated as fundamental in that society i.e. are those values the part of ground norm/basic law of country. Values or attitudes which constitute democratic culture are contained in two SS i.e. "statistical democracy" and "substantive democracy". Statistical democracy by which sovereignty of people and those who will have the right to govern them are determined (which is exercised in free election, held on regular basis for electing the chosen representative of people). Whereas substantive democracy which is reflected in the rule of values such as (i) separation of powers, (ii) rule of law, (iii) independence of judiciary, and (iv) human rights. Statistical and substantive democracy together constitute a democratic political culture in a society. Agencies that promote and strengthen the two facets of democracy are: (i) families, (ii) schools (including madarssas), (iii) social groups (tribal and NGO), and (iv) political parties. We may have achieved important landmarks in our democratic life in last few months, however this does not mean that Pakistan has changed its democratic culture overnight. Instead we have to strengthen all those agencies which are essential for democracy. For the purposes of the article though, my focus will be mostly-on the last of all these agents, namely political parties, which is the most vital link between the state and society. We have to admit that we have failed to evolve a sustainable and tangible democratic culture. Not that the nation did not try. Yes, they have craved for it and made heroic attempts but have so far failed. The movement for putting democracy on rail met failure because the movements were not managed through a democratic structure, or even if it succeeded it was for a short time because it lacked coercive and united leadership. Soon after the success of the movement the fault lines start appearing. We therefore need to understand what the problem is, and in order to alleviate it we need to examine those historical developments or handicaps which produced such negative consequence in spite of a national urge for democratic norm. By properly identifying them we may find the solution. On August 14, 1947 a new country Pakistan was brought on the world's map through power of ballots i.e. via statistical democracy. A proud and magnificent nation was born. But the first fault line on its march towards substantive democracy appeared when All India Muslim League converted itself into All Pakistan Muslim League and assumed power in the new nation state of Pakistan. Soon it became clear that this political party in power was a weakly organised party. Part of the reason for this was that the demand of Pakistan was strongest in Muslim minority areas, but on Pakistani side, support to Muslim League came much later and as such Pakistan's then main political party had hardly any grassroot organisation and support in Pakistan. After achieving independence, the country and PML was in dire need of a new programme and direction. Unfortunately it found difficult to develop it; more so after the death of Jinnah. This resulted in delay in framing the constitution and not holding the general election for more than seven years. Thus after achieving independence even the statistical democracy was put at the backburner. The democratic process then went for a spin when the governor general dissolved the Constituent Assembly in 1954 on the pretext of becoming unrepresentative because of the delay. Absence of a strong and well-organised political party was our first historical handicap. Its adverse effect was the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Pakistan's second obstacle in the way to democratisation came in an indirect but a formidable way. Jinnah had hoped that since the constitutional settlement has been arrived at, the future States of India and Pakistan will live in peace and amity like USA and Canada. But this did not happen. Pakistan remained under threat of its security and vital interests by a hostile, powerful and big neighbour. Since our birth our quest for survival has been as compelling as real. This Insecurity Syndrome shifted the balance between civil-military relationship-gradually giving dominance to military, resulting first in induction of CinC of the army as defence minister in the civilian Cabinet in 1952, and followed by four military takeovers. Even today the issue of correcting imbalance in civil-military relationship is unsolved. Parliamentary democracy flourishes under certain given circumstances. We have to see if those circumstances existed in Pakistan and if not did we or could we have done something to correct the flaw. The helpful variables for a democratic culture are: (i) developed capital market and growing middle class, (ii) absence of or gradual eradication of the feudal and the tribal structure, (iii) attitude of the society towards gender issue, and (iv) respect for human rights and tolerance to the views of others. We have to admit that all of them are missing in Pakistan. Capitalist economic development is weak and confined to a few urban areas only. Middle class is thin and fragile. Feudalism and tribalism have not been eradicated and to the contrary are incorporated into current socio-economic and political system which has now erupted into violence in FATA and Balochistan. Education in the schools and madarssas does not help in changing the mindset towards women. Family honour continues to be entrenched in the woman of the family, who is not allowed to participate in the nation's development. (To the contrary women are allegedly buried alive in parts of our country in the name of honour and tradition). In spite of constitutional and legal support the impact of women in politics of Pakistan is limited. Violation of human right at state level is persistent and has now assumed ugly proportions as political workers or ideological forces would enforce their views as the policy of the state. Even a freely and fairly elected Parliament as on February 18 consists of feudal lords, industrial tycoons, tribal and religious leaders who cannot be expected to carry out an anti-feudal or anti-tribal agenda nor improve the environment for gender equality. Directly elected women representation in the Assemblies is insignificant. As a result of not having rectified the flaws in good time we have gradually landed ourselves into accepting and living with undemocratic regimes. Summarising the long history of our constitutional roller coaster ride; we have had the shocks of the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, abrogation of two constitutions, four time military intervention, division of the country into Pakistan and Bangladesh, repeated rigging of elections and removal of judges under PCO. The proud and magnificent nation is looking helplessly being jeered at and waiting for a massiha, although this is not an era of massihas any more. The political parties being -the most important element of parliamentary democracy the answer must be found for our problems in correcting this institution first. In Pakistan political parties are private enterprises of single persons or families without any systematic and well-established ideology - slogans cannot replace ideology. Another fact is that most of the parties are highly undemocratic in their inner structures. Party leaders have lifetime terms of office and party elections are not being held on a regular basis. There is a total lack of Inner Democracy. Unless this institution is not democratic, in full "statistical" and "substantive" sense, the political culture of Pakistan cannot be democratic. Some of the suggestions are:     Lifetime chairmanship of political parties should be abolished if not by law by convention.     The Political Parties Act relating to an oversight by the Chief Election Commission re-holding of elections within the party must be implemented in letter and spirit.     The state must help political parties through indirect financing in the shape of giving them free time on state radio and television during election campaigns, and allowing private funding through donations.     In certain countries during elections government provides free airtime, free postage and free meeting rooms to candidates - this should be tried in Pakistan as well (state funding can certainly help in keeping foreign influence away from political parties).     Political parties must establish their own human-right wing Since February 18 a new hope has been kindled, although days thereafter have somehow dampened enthusiasm. But now is the time to find solutions and not to blame the darkness. The leadership must be with the parliamentary leaders and the remote control by the leaders who are not elected must come to an end. Fortunately the civil society is more' vigilant than before and it is expected that the new thrust of the civil society to assert itself shall be respected by the armed forces of Pakistan who must have also learnt through their experience of four interventions that politics is for the politicians. And politicians should know that their best defence against military are well-organised political parties. Thus we know the problem. We know the solution. We need the political will. The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan E-mail: mnz@nexlinx.net.pk