In an article published in this newspaper on December 27, 2008 titled "Judicial Coup", I had written: "In the midst of an unimaginable mess, the PPP leadership sits sanguine in its assumption that it has every one fighting and that no one would have the time to pay any attention to its numerous debilitating limitations and the dreadful prospects that it has thrown up for the country as an inalienable accompaniment to its paranoia to hang on to power and its meaty rewards. The parliament may lie in limbo. The judiciary can pack up fighting the battle of the illegal graft of extra marks for its chief justice's daughter. The people can go jump in a lake looking for their fleeting morsels as the ruling concoction appears to be increasingly forfeiting its responsibility of defending the national sovereignty and honour at the altar of a right to power as a consequence of its complicity with a former dictator and the deceit of the international powers to hoist it to garner the fate of this hapless country". I had concluded this piece by saying: "In the presence of a predominant feeling against direct army intervention, what is the course to remedy the growing disaffection with the myopic political leadership, so fastidiously hoisted upon us? People keep reverting to discussing the critical role that the judiciary and the civil society need to play, preferably in tandem, to reverse the damaging tide. In preference to a military coup, they warm up to the prospect of a judicial coup to cleanse the system and eliminate the contradictions that are gnawing the prospect of the emergence of a credible, non-violent, progressive and functional society that would be at peace with itself, and with those around it". This was at a time when there were few takers for the restoration of the November 2 judiciary. Justice Iftikhar was considered history and judiciary was consigned to the devious obduracy of an increasingly intransigent and unpopular presidency. But, the lawyer community together with the civil society and some democratic political forces showed unparalleled fervour and commitment to the cause of the rule of law. In the end, the happenings of March 15/16 have become a proud chapter of the history of Pakistan that would be told and re-told through generations to come. The question is: what now? We have a judiciary that people have been fighting for and with whose restoration was linked the prospect of our national salvation. Can it deliver? Would it deliver? There are mammoth challenges that the restored judiciary is confronted with at its third coming. Of course, there are random voices pleading that bygones should be bygones and we should look into the future. These are the voices of those soulless sycophants who are trained in serving dictatorships and thwarting the prospect of any genuine democratisation of our society and its institutions. That's why we remain caught in the throes of a fear of the inevitable. Every Charlton who has ventured to impose martial law in this country has been let off without even a reprimand. Be it the coinage of the doctrine of necessity by the judiciary or the institutional complicity to stand by a former chief, the dictators have come, plundered and walked into the sunset with an aura of invincibility. This is the first time when this nation and its burgeoning institutions are even considering the prospect of trying a dictator for having violated the provisions of the constitution. And why shouldn't it? What are we afraid of? There can be nothing worse than derailing the wheels of democracy and denying to the people of the country the fruits of a government that would be sensitive to their deprivations. There can be nothing more demeaning than the spectacle of public lashings and hangings, introduction of the drug and gun cultures, mass perpetration of violence, random disappearance of individuals and a blatant and public defiance of the constitution and the rule of law. What if an ordinary mortal were to venture into doing any of this? Must it follow that we would continue to have two laws: one for the endowed and the powerful and one for the downtrodden and the underprivileged? The constitution provisions only one law for every one and also advocates an equitable applicability upon all irrespective of privilege or position, colour or caste, belief or religion. It is the promulgation of this constitution that has evaded the people of this country through numerous phases of struggle. After sixty-one long years, here is the opportunity for the nation to finally come good on the promise of its creation by ensuring the advent of that elusive rule of law for all across the board. The cases are clear: the usurpation of power by General Musharraf in 1999, the self-confessed violation of the constitution through the imposition of a second martial law in November, 2007 and the coinage of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in violation of all legal and constitutional provisions to ensure longevity of the incumbent dictatorship in cahoots with a political party that was eager to embrace the despot in lieu of a carte blanche reprieve from multifarious criminal and graft cases. There are other issues to be tackled also. There is the case of the PCO judges who took oath in violation of the injunction of November 2 and continued on the benches in spite of the fact that the system had been hijacked through the imposition of an emergency and suspension of all right of the citizens of the country. There is the case of the gagging of the media and the murderous happenings of May 12 in Karachi. There is the case of the mass-scale appointments in the judiciary of individuals of suspect bearings. There is the case of dozens of missing persons. There is so much more that drives the mind numb. The primary objective of pushing for a verdict is not to see some one hung for treason. It is also not to see some one caged and suffering. The primary objective is to set an irrevocable precedence that no one has the right to come riding the barrel of a gun and take over and rule, as he would please. Unless this precedence is set our clearly, there would be others who would keep looking for that opportunity to charge in. It is for the judiciary to stop that. Would it? There is palpable hope in the air Postscript: The flag hoisting ceremony at the Chief Justice's house was a bit of a dampener. It was unnecessarily politicised. What had Naheed Khan done to deserve the honour? And why did the restoration of an independent judiciary have to be the fulfilment of Benazir's dream only when it was the dream of a whole nation? Quite simply, the historic occasion deserved a lot better The writer is an independent political analyst based in Islamabad E-mail: