We are living through times that make the heart bleed and the mind numb. There is so much bloodshed around and so many innocent lives lost on a daily basis that one is lost for words even in matters of condolences. There is sadness, there are tears, there is mayhem: there is just about every thing that should not be. Is any one pushed? Are those perched in the saddle of power trying to comprehend the enormity of the challenge that confronts the state? Are they equipped with the requisite level of intelligence, competence and integrity to withstand the evil militant onslaught that has been unleashed, the latest of its manifestations witnessed in Lahore, Peshawar and D.I. Khan in quick succession, killing dozens and maiming scores of others? Pakistan has been on a downward slide for as long as one remembers - this slide having accentuated drastically and tragically during the rule of the current aberration, courtesy the criminal National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) promulgated by a military dictator. It facilitated the advent to power of a group of people against whom there were serious allegations. All that was obliterated with just one stroke of the pen of a dictator which neither had any legal nor constitutional basis. But that was it, and that is the way it still is. All promises and claims to bring about far-reaching constitutional amendments to usher in a genuine democratic era and the rule of law have not gone beyond the pale of polemics. We remain caught in the tentacles of old dictatorial parlance that was conceived, crafted and promulgated by a self-serving coterie surrounding the last of the string of dictators that has plunged the country into abysmal chaos. It is a matter of record and un-abounding tragedy that even those who claim to have been elected through the so-called verdict of the people prefer to continue ruling through the diktat of a despot and the rules and procedures coined by him. The malady afflicting Pakistan is far too deep-rooted than one that can be handled by a group of people who suffer from a perpetual paranoia of their own past. They, therefore, are rendered absolutely irrelevant, even counter-productive, in the context of the grave and unprecedented crisis that the country faces today which requires a clean, legitimate and competent leadership that would be able to garner the national strengths and potential for rescuing it from the quagmire that it is stuck in at this critical juncture of its history. For that to happen, one would also need to revisit the historical genesis leading to the creation of Pakistan and the dream that its founding Governor General had envisaged and outlined for the newborn state. It was not a dream of militancy and bloodshed. It was not a dream of division along ethnic and religious lines. It was not a dream where one Pakistani would be out to slaughter his own countrymen in the most savage of fashions. It was not a dream where hollow semantics and crass pontificating would distinguish the ruling echelons. It was not a dream for perpetuating feudalism and its attending mindset. It was not a dream of a politicised bureaucracy as the executive pillar of the state or a judiciary governed by the doctrine of necessity. It was not a dream of a corrupt political leadership interested more in securing its own future than the future of the suffering multitudes who induct it into power. It was not a dream sanctifying military dictatorships or other undemocratic interregnums. It was not a dream for plundering national resources and keeping its people perpetually exploited and underprivileged. It was not a dream of depriving the citizens of the opportunities to be educated with access to the basic needs of life. It was not a dream for creating a petty vested class with overwhelming ownership and claim to the entire wealth of the country while its toiling millions would remain mired below the poverty line, fighting for their two meals a day. It was not a dream of elevating crime and incompetence and destroying talent and initiative. It was not a dream of sacrificing the youth of the country at the altar of a militant syndrome nurtured in madrassahs. It was not a dream of subjecting its citizens, particularly its women, to the humiliation and barbarity of public flogging. No schools, no hospitals, no health centres, no access to the basic necessities of life. That was not the dream for the state of Pakistan. Does any one remember what the dream was? Has our leadership bothered to go through the years, weeks, days and hours leading up to August 14, 1947 that stamped Pakistan on the map of the world as an independent and sovereign country? To refresh their memories, it was an egalitarian dream sanctifying equal rights for all citizens of Pakistan irrespective of their religion, class, colour or creed. It was a dream rooted in the glorious traditions of democracy and constitutionality. It was a dream where public servants were to behave as public servants alone and deliver by the rules and regulations that governed their induction without being influenced by any political pressure. It was a dream of a judiciary that would ensure the rule of law without fear of consequences. It was a dream for the state's commitment to provide for the basic needs of every citizen. It was a dream for giving the people of this country access to provisions for education, health, security and the opportunities to progress. It is in the denial of these rights that we have landed with a society that is gravely truncated along horizontal and vertical lines into groups and fiefdoms ruled by obscurantist non-entities preaching and propagating the gospel of hatred. It is in the non-provision of economic equitability to the citizens that we have generated a vast underprivileged majority that is perpetually fighting for its survival. It is in encouraging and sanctifying a class-centred educational system, resulting in the emergence of a tiny minority that is always engaged in efforts to keep the dominant majority from securing its rights, thus creating multi-faceted dismay and frustration. Dictatorial practices have taken precedence over democratic traditions depriving people of their basic rights as enshrined in the constitution. Militant agendas have overtaken the glorious traditions of peaceful co-existence and large-scale practice of brutality holds sway over the antecedents of kindness and compassion. It is a dream gone sour. For it to be resuscitated and to generate a momentum towards its much-belated fulfilment, the critical pre-requisite is the advent of legitimacy among all echelons of governance. This must begin from the top The writer is an independent political analyst based in Islamabad. E-mail: raoofhasan@hotmail.com