It was bequeathed to us by a young man, who stood on a hill in Makkah and changed the destiny of mankind. It was cherished by kings and paupers and was even manifest in the colonial masters, who ruled the subcontinent for two centuries. It was visible in the person of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the men and women who gave us Pakistan, but then it met its demise as our Founding Father lay breathing his last, in a fly ridden, hot, broken down ambulance, waiting hour upon long hour for a replacement to arrive. It now lies interred in some obscure corner of this 'land of the pure, with a headstone that beckons futilely to all who pass with three faded words - here lies dignity. Democracies have Parliaments, where leaders thrown up by popular vote sit and engage themselves in the serious business of making laws and debating issues. These men and women are encumbered with a sacred burden and are required to bear it with grace and the one attribute that is amiss amongst them - dignified behaviour. Granted that at times discussion, even in the House of Commons or Capitol Hill, becomes so heated that the speaker or someone with a 'head on his or her shoulders intervenes to cool tempers down, but here at home lawmakers smugly resort to actions that are not only childish, but unbecoming and insulting to their voters mandate. Pakistans parliamentary history, frequently interrupted by martial laws, is replete with examples where the peoples representatives have become almost juvenile in their behaviour. As if tossing books and papers was not enough, our honourable members have been guilty of causing the death of a Speaker on the floor of the House just a few years after the demise of Jinnah. Heckling is considered poor behaviour, but tolerated to an extent in developed countries. It, however, becomes inexcusable when it turns into a cacophony of jeers and insults. Our budget session a few days back was just such an example with bangles being thrown at the Minister of Finance and a roti being presented with ceremony, to the already harried architect of the document. The situation was ironic in the sense that the party on the receiving end had actually set the precedence for such behaviour themselves, in past sessions. Our electronic media too appears to be riding the bandwagon with its language becoming more derisive and devoid of dignity with each passing day. This may in all fairness be a reaction to the stolid apathy of the government towards the issues highlighted on television screens day and night. If this isnt so, then our private channels need to seriously introspect on what they say and how? Elections are the cornerstone of any democracy, as they set into motion a process of synthesis whereby the public elects or rejects their representatives depending on what they have delivered in the previous years. In the developed world, the losing party accepts defeat with dignity and vows to continue serving the people. In Pakistan, no such thing happens as the losing side begins by calling the elections a sham and accuses the winning side of cheating. Notwithstanding the fact that a part of these allegations may be true, in the world of today with independent media watching proceedings with an eagle eye, election malpractices are becoming more and more risky. My late grandmother used to say that if you want to judge the character and temperament of a person, watch him or her eat and to prove her point, this awesome old lady sat behind a blind to watch her prospective son-in-law take his meal before approving the match. My grandmothers logic often comes to mind when I watch the stampede of guests at the buffet table during marriage functions or dinners. Piling their plates high with food and consuming it like beasts, this mob appears to have sprung out of a French history book. Last but not least, whenever our Prime Minister or in the present case, the President travels by road, his route suddenly erupts in a flurry of banners and posters with captions that would put a court sycophant of old to shame. Not content with just the caption, the banners and posters carry the face of their sponsor in the hope that the VVIP will see and remember his 'supreme act of devotion. If only these people could hear what the educated public has to say about this activity, they wouldbut wait, what am I talking about? Shame is a virtue of those, who possess dignity, not those who have been the cause of its demise. The writer is a freelance columnist.