General Mirza Aslam Beg MQM chief Altaf Hussains appeal to the patriotic generals, is reminiscent of the appeal made by former Air Chief Marshal Asghar Khan in his letter to General Zia in 1977, and then the putting together of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) under the PPP in 1998, which led to military take over in 1977 and 1999. It is the name of the game, played for the last several decades, to pull down the elected governments for military takeovers. But would this game succeed again is indeed a matter of concern. In an address, on August 22, 2010, MQM chief told his party workers: Army generals had imposed martial law in the past, so they could take a similar action again to weed out corrupt politicians, and his party would support such an act. Although MQM is a coalition partner in the present government, yet its top leader seems to have reached a point of desperation either because of his differences on the governments corruption, matters of governance, or perhaps, oopar se hukum aya hai (orders from above). Let us first, therefore, examine Asghar Khans appeal to General Zia in order to prove the syndrome of military interventions. In 1977, when the agitation against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was gaining momentum, Asghar Khan wrote a letter to General Zia, urging him to intervene because the country was going to the dogs and delay in military takeover would be disastrous. This letter was seen by our Secretary General FRIENDS, Dr S. M. Rahman who was then advisor Psy Ops in GHQ. General Zia, discussed the contents of this letter with him. So the point is, whether Asghar Khan was acting on his own, or he had received orders from above to make such a move. Asghar Khan was happy, when the Bhutto government was toppled and his trial began. And we all know, how impatient he was to see the end of Bhutto, by publicly urging General Zia, to hang him from the Kohala Bridge, if the court verdict was wanting in this respect. And there is another example of such a conspiracy in support of the army takeover in 1999. In 1997, under the leadership of PPP, we formed an alliance named Pakistan Awami Ittehad (PAI) with an eleven-point agenda to mobilise public opinion. On August 14, 1998, a rally was held at Nishtar Park, Karachi, where the PPP demonstrated its political power. The next day, when we had assembled at the Bilawal House for the assessment, Nawabzada Nasrullah and the PPP leadership declared: This man (Nawaz Sharif) must go, and that is our one-point agenda now. We tried to find out the reason for confining the movement to one-point agenda; however, we did not get a reasonable explanation. It was apparent that they too had received orders from above. Forced by circumstances, we disassociated ourselves from the alliance and immediately formed a new alliance named as Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) under PPPs leadership, in collaboration with ANP, MQM, Tehrik-i-Insaf, Tahirul Qadri and Nawabzada Nasrullah, leading a group of about a dozen smaller parties. During the last week of September 1999, GDA leaders called on me. They wanted me to join the bandwagon and told me: The army was going to intervene. That it will hold elections in 90 days and they shall be in power. And we want you to be on board with us. I asked them: Why are you so sure of yourself? One of the senior members replied: We have received orders from above, obviously to mobilise the public. And sure enough, Musharraf took over, soon after. Has Altaf also received orders from above; one may not know. But it was really surprising when PPPs Secretary General Jahangir Badr said: PPP bigwigs are looting and plundering. Those who have done nothing for the party have now become big names; looting and plundering and increasing their rates on a daily basis. I could also go for the loot by taking a bag in my hand, but I wont. If some government officials want to take action against me because of what I have said, they are free to please themselves. In addition, Imran Khan and Pir Pagara have also supported Altaf Hussain, which adds to the surprise this nefarious game. Although the orders from above formula has worked in the past, but it will not work now. The judiciary is no more part of the game, while the army has burnt its fingers four times, and particularly under Musharrafs rule. During the last two years, nevertheless, the army has earned a good name for what it has done for the cause of democracy and in aid of civil power. Thus, Altaf Hussains statement is rather intriguing. It is either an illusion of a leader, having experienced something based on reality, or it is political expediency induced by some external elements seeking advantage through unlawful means. Undoubtedly, change is needed to break Zardaris 'grid lock over the party, Parliament and the PM; to remove the deadlock between the Supreme Court and the government on the NRO issue, as well as the 18th Amendment, and at the same time to remove the stagnation in governance. Change is needed. But the question is, how to take the first step? Indeed, the situation demands a very calculated move, but any attempt for a military intervention will be a disaster. The judiciary, the government and the opposition will have to step forward to determine the fundamental direction for change and the constitutional steps of deliverance and solvency. We, as a nation, are a very impatient people and have never given democracy a chance to deliver. The first democratic order of 1972 to 1977, rejected Mr Bhutto and if General Zia had not intervened, the system would have thrown up a new leadership. Bhutto would have lived his day, to reclaim his right to power, later on, as part of the built-in corrective mechanism of the democratic system. Similarly, between 1988-99, both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were twice rejected by the system, opening the door for a new leadership to emerge. Thus, Musharraf intervened, stopped the process and created political abnormalities which we now have to suffer. Suffer, we must for our sins; however, let the process take its course which is the best revenge, for the cause of democracy. Forget about Altaf and his patriotic generals. Men do not matter. It is the robustness of the system that lends strength to the nation. The writer is a former Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan. Email: