The major allegation against the outgoing military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf is that he showed no respect for the constitution and even did not hesitate to mutilate it to serve his ambitions for longevity of his rule - particularly in regards to the dismissal of the chief justice and other judges who refused to take oath under PCO - which ultimately led to his downfall as a result of the reaction of the lawyers community, civil society and the media. But strangely enough no body, even the ever vigilant media, has taken much notice of the decision by the provincial governments to do away with the devolution plan and restore the defunct system of district magistracy, in clear violation of the article 175(3) of the constitution. Regrettably, even the National Reconstruction Bureau which choreographed the devolution plan is also reported to have recommended scrapping of the system. The article referred above, envisaged progressive separation of judiciary from the executive in fourteen years from the date of commencement of the constitution. It is however frustrating to note that the successive governments both military and representative, remained criminally oblivious to this constitutional obligation. None of them ever exhibited the political will and intent to scrap the oppressive and anti-people administrative structure, a legacy of the colonial era, until the same dictator who is so reviled for his unconstitutional indiscretions fulfilled this constitutional requirement through his devolution plan. There may have been some loopholes in the devolution plan, but conceptually it was very much compatible with the spirit of the relevant constitutional provision. There is always room for improvement but the aversion shown by the provincial governments to this system in totality, represents reactionary and feudal mentality which has permeated throughout the history of governance in Pakistan, purported to promote interests of the elite and the ruling classes at the cost of the people. This colonial administrative arrangement has invariably been used by the incumbent governments to fix their political opponents and rig elections to thwart the will of the people, due to the concentration of administrative and judicial powers in the offices of the Deputy Commissioners and Commissioners. This mindset has undoubtedly, been the cause of our political and economic failures. Paradoxically, Sharif brothers who have been and are still crying hoarse from every convenient rooftop to uphold the sanctity of the Constitution, were the first to violate it by restoring the old colonial administrative set-up in Punjab followed by NWFP and Balochistan. The federal government also seems to have acquiesced to this unconstitutional move. General Musharraf may have been a villain in many respects but he will always be remembered and credited by the historians for two initiatives i.e. separation of judiciary from the executive and liberalization of the media by ending the monopoly of the official electronic media and opening the field to the private TV and Radio Channels. The liberalization of the media particularly augurs well for the future, promising to ensure transparency and accountability of the government and the protection of the fundamental human rights. In all the democratic and civilized societies, the separation of judiciary and executive are the cardinal principles of any constitutional arrangement and the people at the grass root level are empowered to manage their own affairs. That obviously was the reason that the architects of the 1973 constitution included article 175(3) in the constitution but unfortunately the mentality never changed and the constitution was not respected. One of the charges against Bhutto government apart from the corruption charges, when Farooq Leghari dismissed her government, was lack of respect for the constitution. In the wake of the February elections and deposition of Musharraf, there were genuine hopes for the beginning of an era of constitutional rule in the country. But the post- Musharraf events have proved beyond doubt that it will remain an illusion forever. PPP leadership which had been relentlessly terming the November 3 steps by Musharraf and the judiciary installed under PCO as unconstitutional, suddenly became an ardent supporter of the PCO judiciary and accepted Justice Dogar as the constitutional Chief Justice, despite the fact that the changes made by Musharraf were not endorsed or ratified by the parliament. Until and unless that was done they could not form part of the Constitution. It also reneged on its promises to restore the deposed judges and instead adopted a devious and novel way of re-appointing the deposed judges with pre- November 2 seniority, in violation of article 255 (3) of the constitution, which stipulates "Where, under the Constitution a person is required to make an oath before he enters upon an office, he shall be deemed to have entered upon the office on the day on which he makes the oath" Regrettably it required public agitation led by Nawaz Sharif to have the judges restored. The meteoric rise of Asif Zardari to the august office of President, his past and present credentials notwithstanding, was hailed as triumph of democracy by all and sundry. Even the staunch detractors of Zardari who were not letting go any opportunity to portray him in the dark light, seemed willing to accept the notion that his ascend to the thrown might have changed the man and people could hope to be governed constitutionally. But that again looks a far cry as even after more than one year in power Zardari continues to wield powers assumed by the outgoing dictator through his unconstitutional steps and under the notorious 17th amendment despite repeated promises to have them quashed, making mockery of the so-called parliamentary democracy. All the executive powers which should have been enjoyed by the Prime Minister, are being exercised by him against the spirit of the Constitution, which has become subservient to the political interests and ambitions of the political leaders in power. As is evident there is nothing to choose between the dictators and the political leaders who are equally guilty of pushing the country to the edge of a precipice, due to their disrespect for the constitution. The leadership of the country, therefore, has to realize that the country can no more afford to be ruled unconstitutionally. There is therefore a need for paradigm change in the way the country is to be governed. They have to abandon contradictions in what they say and what they do. The need to change the traditional mind-set and learn from the history was never as great as it is today when the country is faced with colossal economic afflictions and grave threat to its security and internal unity. Let us all strive to avoid the repeat of the situation insinuated in the adage "Those who do not learn from history, tend to repeat it." The writer is a retired bureaucrat