"The first years of man must make provision for the last." Samuel Johnson The people are well aware of the difficult security conditions that have engulfed Pakistan. They are now demanding for a concerted effort by the nations political leadership to come forward to tackle the menace of terrorism. They also realise that such incidences, like the assault on the PNS Mehran in Karachi, have added a new dimension and urgency, which requires complete unity and has heightened the responsibility every Pakistani. At present, the country seems to be fractured and everything is moving in the wrong direction. The basic concern that has been identified remains the encouragement of extremism and half-baked religious ideas that unfortunately exist in several sections of our society. Thus, it is not only the responsibility of the government to eradicate extremism from the countrys body politic, but also it is equally important that the civil society should come forward and play its due role to deal with the issue. Amazingly, while the political leaders in the Islamabad have failed to design an appropriate strategy that would help create awareness among the masses about the mischief and the damage that has been spread by the terrorists, Punjab is going through a slow but productive change where prudence is taking root among the political parties. Ever since Sardar Latif Khosa was appointed as Governor Punjab by the federal government after the unfortunate assassination of Late Salman Taseer, who became a victim of extreme religious ideals, the PPP and PML-N leadership has been engaged in a political dtente that augers well not only for Punjab, but also Pakistan. A good working relationship is slowly developing between the two major political parties, which is an acknowledgement of political maturity and adherence to the ground realities of the largest province. However, this certainly does not mean that there is absolute smooth sailing as far as the relationship between the Governor and the Chief Minister is concerned. In this backdrop, the Governor recently asked the Chief Minister to revisit the four recommendations made by him for his approval. The summary that was turned down by the Governor related to the appointment of a member of the Punjab Service Commission, the Lahore Ring Road Authority Ordinance 2011, the appointment of Sargodha University Vice Chancellor and the reconstitution of the University Syndicate of University of Engineering and Technology, Taxila. Khosa, who was a professional lawyer before his appointment as Governor, extensively quoted different decisions of the superior judiciary before turning down the summary. Nevertheless, previously such a situation could have erupted into a full-scale political war leaving both sides badly bruised and harming the institution of democracy. But not anymore Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif demonstrated political pragmatism and decided to review the summary, despite the advice given to him by some hawkish elements in his party. Indeed, such political maturity must be displayed by our political leadership at all levels, since it will create a healthy atmosphere that is conducive to strengthening democracy. While political battles are a normal phenomenon in any democratic set-up, unfortunately democracy in our country has suffered because of some politicians have often tried to pursue personal vendetta against their critics or opponents when they get power. Instituting false cases against political opponents and state machinery, especially the police that was used as an instrument by successive governments to pursue their political goals, was a routine. Needless to say, all this allowed adventurism that finally resulted in the crippling of democracy and collapse of the economy. So it is necessary to understood that while the parties pursue their political agendas, they must not allow difference of opinion to degenerate into a level where they convert into personal animosities. They must understand that those who are in the opposition are not the enemies of the nation. On the contrary, since they stand a fair chance to win the support of the people and come into power at some point in time through elections, they must be recognised in that perspective. This will surely strengthen democracy and put the country on the road to economic prosperity. Once these principles are established it will become easy for the government of the day to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, who presently dont have much to bank on. Currently, there is an air of despondency and helplessness as far as a vast majority of the people are concerned. It is the responsibility of the politicians to come forward and show political prudence that will help the country climb out from its present state of despair. One hopes that the federal and provincial governments, instead of political point scoring, will devote their energies to promote tolerance because that will allow democratic institutions to hold on and perhaps the challenges facing the state will be resolved. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that democratic forces provide the people with the leadership that is not only capable of resolving the problems of the masses, but is also equipped with a vision to overcome the twin threats: Terrorism and poor economic progress. At the same time, the people should live up to the expectations of the country and share the responsibility by discharging their duties towards the state; most important of them being the payment of taxes and the elimination of corrupt practices, which is eating away the country like a cancer. One hopes that in the days to come the entire political leadership will get together and review the nations security, and also put in place economic policies that will help ease the problems of the common man. However, if the tendency to resolve economic issues through political manoeuvrings continues, then it will become difficult for Pakistan to surmount the problems that it has sunk into. A collective effort is required to solve these challenges immediately. We must remember that now our main concern should be how to survive and live with dignity. n The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com