CONTINUING his tirade against General Musharraf, whom he described as a 'relic of the past', PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari now tells him to step down voluntarily or face impeachment. The occasion of his outburst was a press briefing in Islamabad with Mr Zardari unveiling main points of the 18th Amendment Bill, aimed at clipping the President's power to dismiss an elected government, ensuring the reinstatement of deposed judges, strengthening Article 6 of the Constitution to punish the judges who would validate military takeovers in future and establishing the supremacy of Parliament. The party's Central Executive Committee, that earlier approved the draft and authorized Mr Zardari to consult the coalition partners, was however divided on whether the President should be taken into confidence. Mr Aitzaz Ahsan strongly objected to the suggestion of  limiting the CJ's tenure to three years. The proposed package on the whole is commendable, but the fact remains that no constitutional amendment can stop recurring military takeovers unless the political and military leaderships learn to respect the rule of law. More than one example can be cited from our political history to substantiate this. Despite the fact that the 1973 Constitution was unanimously adopted, Mr Bhutto was removed and executed by Zia, who arrogated to himself the power to dismiss elected governments while paving the way for future military takeovers. And the most unfortunate was the role of the superior judiciary that adhered to the much-maligned Doctrine of Necessity in validating the 1977 Martial Law. Then it was the Parliament through which Zia got Article 58(2b) ratified in 1985. Eleven years down the line, President Farooq Leghari dismissed Benazir Bhutto's government on charges of graft and Mian Nawaz Sharif, who had supported the move, turned out to be its main beneficiary. Returning to power with a two-thirds majority, he wasted no time in getting an amendment passed to strip the President of his power to dissolve the National Assembly. It, however, failed to strengthen the democratic process as the tussle between the executive and the judiciary led to the toppling of the fifth elected government after the revival of democracy in 1985. But it had nothing to do with Article 58(2b) because this time it was not the President but the Army chief who did so. This proves that this particular clause is not the only thing that prevents democracy from taking root. Perhaps what is important is to inculcate respect for the Constitution and the rule of law among the elected leadership, the judiciary and those who nurture Bonapartist tendencies to dismantle the democratic process over and over again. The drafters of the proposed constitutional package must keep in mind that its adoption, by indemnifying General Musharraf's unconstitutional action of November 3, may hardly help in preventing future military takeovers or stopping the judiciary from validating them.