It would be folly to argue that the people cannot make political mistakes. They can and do make grave mistakes. They know it, they pay the penalty, but compared with the mistakes which have been made by every kind of autocracy they are unimportant. Calvin Coolidge There seems to be a perennial debate whether democracy will survive in this country or yet again the anti-democratic forces will succeed in pushing back those who support democratic institutions. Lately, the controversy surrounding the institution of democracy has gained momentum due to speculations that a clash between two vital organs of the state have become inevitable and that would lead to the early demise of democracy in Pakistan. Those who were predicting a serious confrontation between the executive and the judiciary had taken their cue from the fact that the Supreme Court of Pakistan was now seized with two important issues, the implementation of its verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance and the case against the 18th constitutional amendment passed by Parliament. The speculation has continued to swirl around these two issues regardless of the fact that the government has been at pains trying to convince everyone that it has no intention of violating the decisions of the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the government has a very divergent view about the question of writing to the Swiss authorities on reopening a case that is considered to be a closed chapter by the Federal government. Here according to some eminent lawyers, the Supreme Court has the powers to write a letter directly to the Swiss authorities informing them about the decision taken by the Pakistani Supreme Court and it is not absolutely essential for the Government to convey the decision of the court to Switzerland. While this argument may be considered to be a technical thin line, yet it clearly indicates that the government and the Supreme Court have two divergent views on this issue. Another pertinent point that is connected with the NRO decision remains the immunity that is enjoyed by the President under article 248 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Even here, there are some in the legal community who would want the government to seek an interpretation on this issue from the courts while an equally strong legal lobby insists that since the immunity enjoyed by the President is enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan there was no need to seek any interpretation on a settled issue. The Law Minister, summoned to the Supreme Court, would have appeared before this article is printed. If there is an unfortunate outcome due to this case, the first victim could be democracy in Pakistan. The second issue that is expected to be argued before the Justices pertains to the 18th constitutional amendment that besides other issues has laid down a procedure for the recruitment of judges to the superior judiciary. A point that has generated debate and controversy and has divided the lawyers community into two groups, one that supports the authority of the Parliament and the other that demands that the Parliament should have no say in the appointment of judges. Whatever the outcome of the case one thing is certain and that is that all organs of the state should operate within the orbits of the Constitution and respect the will of the people meaning thereby that the sovereignty of Parliament and its right to amend the Constitution must be recognized at all levels. For those who insist that justice must prevail even in case if the 'heavens fall it must be pointed out that whatever the outcome the heavens will never fall but in case of disagreement or confrontation between the parliament and the superior judiciary once again the first casualty will be the institution of democracy. Therefore if this argument is accepted it becomes extremely important to realize that the defence of the institution of democracy should not only be the responsibility of the political leadership, meaning the parliament, but also an equal burden must be shared by the Justices who should ensure that the democratic institutions in the country do not suffer any more. The coming days and weeks will provide an answer to all the questions that were swirling in the air and, God forbid, if proper answers or solutions were not quickly found then that could lead to a confrontation between the two vital pillars of the state. The resulting situation would once again allow anti-democratic forces to prevail in the country. One hopes that sanity will prevail and every organ of the government will try to follow the dictates of the constitution and also use common sense to ensure that democracy that was won by the people after a long wait does not disappear once again. For this collective wisdom and maturity would be required and for the optimistic both the executive and the judiciary have competent people who can understand the consequences, if anyone indulges in brinkmanship because that would lead to absolute disaster. At present the only person displaying maturity and prudence remains the head of the establishment who has not indicated any desire to meddle in affairs that are outside his jurisdiction. This is extremely significant keeping in view the fact that powerful anti-democratic forces were seen lobbying very hard trying to rope him in so that their design could be achieved and all those who stand for democracy, rule of law and equity are once again defeated in this country. It would therefore be proper that everyone moves with extreme caution and is not carried away due to vested interests or personal considerations and the interest of the country and that of the institution of democracy is allowed to reign supreme if this country is to move forward and establish its credentials as a responsible state in the comity of nations. The writer is a freelance columnist.