According to newspaper reports, President Musharraf told Chaudhry Shujaat and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer that "politics of confrontation can harm democratic institutions." He also underscored the need for the promotion of restraint and tolerance in politics. He is absolutely right but it seems that he makes use of such sensible principles to suit his purpose and not because he believes in them. If that was not the case he would have left power after three years as decided by the Supreme Court rather than hold a bogus referendum in 2002 followed by a rigged elections whose results were then manipulated to conjure up a majority in the assembly by "persuading" the PPP MNAs to leave their party and join the Q league to form a pliable government in which they would get important and lucrative ministries. He would also not have summarily dismissed PM Jamali as if he was not the Prime Minister of Pakistan but his private employee and replace him with an interim PM Chaudhry Shujaat, till the smooth talking suave looking banker could be elected as an MNA and appointed PM. And again in 2007 when President Musharraf's five-year tenure was coming to an end he should have said good-bye to the presidency rather than stay in power in clear violation of the constitution and ethical principles. The spurious charges that he levelled against Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry on March 9, 2007 in an attempt to remove him so that he could not challenge his illegal election in uniform was the biggest blow he dealt to democracy and touched off the longest legal confrontation in the country's history. One had hoped that the Supreme Court's decision of July 20 would close this ugly chapter but on November 3 President Musharraf dealt a bigger blow to the rule of law by imposing the emergency, suspending the constitution and dismissing the CJ and 60 other judges of the superior judiciary. On that date, November 3, 2007, he acted like King Henry II who ruled over England some 700 years ago. When King Henry got fed up with Archbishop Thomas Becket's defiance and "suo moto" actions, he asked his courtiers if there was no one who could "get rid of this troublesome priest." Thereupon, his courtiers, in the fashion of courtiers all over the world, assassinated Archbishop Thomas Becket. That murder and the murder of the constitution of Pakistan on November 3, 2007, have a lot of resemblance. President Musharraf's eight years of autocratic rule resembled the monarchies that existed in Europe over 300 years ago. Hundreds of Pakistanis allegedly kidnapped by the agencies are still missing; the lawyers and the journalists were brutally beaten up for protesting over the unconstitutional removal of the CJP; GEO's office in Islamabad was attacked for showing the police brutality; over 50 Pakistanis were killed in cold blood on May 12, 2007 in Karachi; the CJP was prevented from reaching and addressing the Sindh Bar's office; the office of Aaj TV in Karachi was fired upon; all TV channels were shut down from November 3; the NRO was issued and all charges in all the courts in Pakistan and abroad were dropped as if it was the personal and inherited wealth of President Musharraf that had been looted and for whose recovery he had set-up NAB and spent millions of dollars of public money. All these and hundreds of other acts and decisions taken by President Musharraf during the last eight years, but particularly since March 9, 2007 have caused nothing but tension, turmoil and confrontation between the three pillars of state and weakened the institution of democracy in Pakistan. He, however, thinks that the elected representatives of the people should avoid confrontation and let him stay in power to complete his tenure. He does not think for a moment that he is in any way responsible for the damage to Pakistan's image or economy. It is beguiling that President Musharraf, otherwise intelligent and sharp, cannot read the writing on the wall that the people of Pakistan wrote with their votes on February 18. A less intelligent person in his place would have been in no doubt as to the meaning of that verdict. He should know, no matter what his courtiers may be telling him, that he is the biggest cause of confrontation and instability that is once again threatening the very integrity of Pakistan. Hence, instead of telling his opponents to avoid confrontation, he should bow to the will of the people and end the confrontation with the judges, the lawyers, the PML-N, other politicians and above all the people of Pakistan. But the misfortune of Pakistanis is that self-righteousness and arrogance has become so deeply ingrained in the psyche of our generals that they regard the constitution as a mere piece of paper, their own judgement to be always correct and themselves above the law of the land. Their attitude reminds me of Ghalib's verse: Khirad ka naam junoo rakh dia junoo ka khirad; / Jo chahey aap ka husnaiy karishmansaz karay The writer is a former ambassador E-mail: