When corruption rampant in all its shades at the national level no longer raises the eyebrows, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday's interview on one of the private TV channels was a breath of fresh air. In a country reeking with exploits of suave buccaneers particularly in the upper layer of the society, Mr Ramday deserves accolades for declining to pocket a billion. What stuff is he made of? Trading loyalties is craft of the crafty. Politicians' wheeling-dealing in their loyalties for a few millions with cushy jobs for their sidekicks thrown in, has been the norm in our murky politics, but rarely was a billion offered to a Judge to subvert his loyalty to his profession. It was not merely the twist of his pen the stakeholders had sought for; it was a bid to undermine his integrity and his conscience. Powers that be misunderstood him. And one should not blame them for it because not many have been known to decline a crisp billion presented in a briefcase. The bidders were not accustomed to taking "No" for an answer. Were Justice M R Kayani living, he would have smiled all the way besides adding a chapter to his book A judge may laugh, attributed to Justice Ramday. Mr Ramday could have easily justified himself by accepting the offer, for many billions in the impoverished land had already changed hands or were written off, which amounts to the same. And upon whom the billions were bestowed, it did not make a dent in their social standing and many still occupy positions at the national level of decision making. Some of them regularly appear on the TV channels with straight faces to lecture the public. And here is a Judge who did not know what to do with a billion. Had he sought the counsel of those who knew the good use of billions, many would have rushed to help him. There is no dearth of loan defaulters and banks' presidents on the run while the beneficiaries remain men of honour and opinion. Interestingly, the tragic sequence of events the deposed judges went through did not tarnish Mr Ramday's sense of humour. He laughs easily. And when he laughs, those watching him also laugh, so pleasing and winsome is he. Even when his household stuff was thrown out of his official residence and he did not have a house of his own, he maintained his equanimity. He took it as a cheap prank by his adversaries. When pessimists lose sleep over how badly things are running in the country and speculate an abysmal picture of it, they should now take a little solace. Quite a few Ramday's in all walks of national life still stand firm by their principles for the nation to count on. Men like them represent nation's hopes and aspirations. The real crisis exists in leadership. The nation is looking for leaders who could stand above self. But what it gets in return is the same tried lot mouthing the same clichs of service to the people and rest of the garbage. What is essentially wrong with us is that our leaders keep their self-interests above the national interests. At present, our leadership's interests do not represent aspirations of its people but coincide with US interests in the region. Our sovereignty has been continuously violated; when people protest against it, they are either silenced or made to disappear. Had November 3 judiciary been in place, many missing persons would have returned to their families. Indeed, heartrending it is to see the families of the missing persons, standing in the scorching heat holding placards, begging for the release of their dear ones. Included among them are young wives with small children and old parents of the disappeared. When wailing's of the sufferers are not addressed, it only breeds more extremism. Religious extremism is attributable to absence of justice hence the clamour for the shariah law. On the restoration of judges' issue, the society stands divided into two segments. First is the large majority comprising of the poor and the largely urban middle class that the independent, free, and impartial judiciary benefits. This class has traditionally been victimised by the powerful oppressors. The second segment is a minority of fabulously rich politicians and usurpers of power; its aims are self-serving, and it must manipulate the judiciary to protect its devious interests. Sentiments of the large majority almost border on hatred against the few blocking the restoration of independent judiciary. Justice Ramday will live as long as God wished him to, so would those who offered him a billion and a ministerial slot for his son. In a lighter vein, had Mr Ramday accepted a billion, he need not have to worry how to spend it, he could have easily sought the help of Hamesh Khan (twice awarded Sitarai-Imtiaz), former president Bank of Punjab, who slipped away leaving the NAB boys sulking. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail:pinecity@gmail.com