[My last article, Closure, marked the end of the Musharraf era. They amount to 454 in all. From now on my articles will be on our fourth or seventh democracy era, depending on whether you count the three we have had under military rulers: 1962 to '69 Ayub Khan; '85-'88 Zia, and '02-'08 Musharraf. But from now I will only address the very worried and concerned younger generation by way of letters to my 20-year old son Muhammad Ali Gauhar. So many young people between ages 15 to 25 seek me out for discussion and advice (for which I am more deeply honoured than they realise) that they have made me appreciate that with my generation having done its worst, it is now our duty to try and address the fears and aspirations of the young and at least attempt to make our terrible legacy better than what it is before we mercifully pass on. The future belongs to our children and they are our future. The least we can do by way of atonement is to talk to them. Talking to my generation is like talking to losers.] My dear Ali: No wonder your head is swimming. When in 1997 Benazir Bhutto lost power and went into self-exile and Nawaz Sharif put Asif Zardari in prison you were only nine years old. When Nawaz Sharif was thrown out by the army on October 12, 1999 you were still very young - only 11. On that fateful evening you were out of the house taking tuition when our television screens first went blank and then a pink rose appeared accompanied by funereal music. Your mother went to pick you up but instead went to the television station to watch a countercoup in action. Your tutor dropped you home. You looked as dazed then as you do now, not quite knowing what to make of all the comings and goings of your elders, the gulf between their rhetoric and results, between their promises and performance. Now we are back to that same bad past, only worse. So I don't blame you for being dazed. Even I am dazed, if that makes you feel any better. You wonder what happened to that bright new dawn that was promised to you when General Musharraf took over. You wonder what happened to the bright new dawn that was promised to you only six months ago. You wonder why we are in a constant state of dj vu. You wonder what happened to accountability, to the system that was supposed to deliver good government. "Is this democracy?" you ask. "If not, then what is it?" No, my son, this is mimicking by those who are still mental slaves of the old and present colonisers. Their systems may work for them; they don't for us. Democracy to us Muslims in a state that calls itself Islamic has to be a system that regularly throws up governments that continuously and significantly improve the human condition, starting from the poorest and most wretched. God tells us in the Quran to choose leaders from amongst ourselves and to choose from among the best. Our system is geared to force us to choose between the worst, because they are the only choices we have. The good would hardly be associated with and polluted by this system. Thus only the bad and the ugly reign supreme. Today you watched Barack Obama make his speech at the Democratic Convention and later the Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and wondered why we cannot produce leaders like them. It's the system my dear son, it's the system. It is the system that throws up good leaders more often than not. Ours is geared to throw up only the primitive - whether rural or urban matters little for the mindset is still feudal and tribal. Could there be a bigger joke than the purveyors of poverty and wretchedness being elected to represent the poor and the wretched? Could there be a bigger joke than the oppressors of the people being elected to end their oppression? Could there be a bigger joke than that many get elected because their credibility lies in a grave? Any wonder that the only change in the people's lot is more wretchedness and greater poverty? Now you are wondering about our next president. Does it matter? They are all angels in marble, meaning there is "much of a muchness" about them. They are all nominees of one section or another of a divided establishment. The one who will make it is the one who is also a nominee of the US establishment, for that has now become the most important part of our establishment. If any proof were needed that the road to power in Pakistan passes through Washington, you have got in bucketful's with the amazing goings on since January 2007, things like the NRO or the pardon of the Sharifs that would normally lie beyond the pale of genuine democratic practice. But America says that this is what democracy is. Would they tolerate such pardons and NROs in their own society? I wonder. You are nauseated by the chattering, babbling, ranting of many of your uncles and aunties. I don't blame you. They are like this not only because many of them are stupid, but also because they are rank opportunists. How else would so many minions of past dictators civil and military have the temerity to rise and proclaim their love for democracy and suddenly find themselves on the side of 'the people'? The time to rise was when they were busy throttling infant democracy in the service of dictators, not now when the last 'dictator' had the sense not to give them a job. They are shameless jokers. God has given them everything yet they are not satisfied. They never will be, not until they get some benefit, any benefit, from some government, any government. Then see how fast they forget 'the people'. And the rich who used to shout for democracy when in the company of the opposition and proclaim their loyalty to the 'dictator' when with him are gathering their billions and scampering off to safer shores, wife and children in tow, servants and dogs abandoned. The problem with our country is not so much that 70 percent of the people are illiterate; it is that 99.99 percent are uneducated. You cannot understand how so many of your uncles and aunties who not months ago were harping on about democracy now come to your father's baithak (we hardly have a drawing room) asking, "How long will the army allow this to go on? What will it take to make them intervene? How much more destruction must there be before it stops the rot? When the patient is brain dead?" No wonder your young head is spinning. Their latest lament is that Asif Zardari will become president. Say to them: "Didn't you think about this earlier? You wanted 'democracy'; you've got it. Now lump it. Mr Zardari has every right to be president, or nominate whomever he wishes, because the people democratically gave his party the largest number of seats in parliament. His coalition has the majority. You can't deny that." You see how they sit and analyse General Kiyani's body language, his every statement and move? You have every right to be dazed. But never become cynical. There is always hope. I've already told you that being president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan means being head of state, supreme commander of the armed forces, commander-in-chief of the army, navy and air force, symbol of the unity of the federation and continuity of the state. "But that's all symbolic," you say. Sorry, I forgot to tell you the most important thing. The president is also the chairman of the National Command Authority, which means that he has the final say in the deployment and use of nuclear weapons, which means that he has his finger on the proverbial nuclear button. If things go according to the script scripted elsewhere, when you wake up on the morning of September 6 you will see Mr Asif Ali Zardari's finger being democratically put on Pakistan's nuclear button. Befitting that it should also be our 43rd 'Defence of Pakistan Day' You are amazed how those very people who wanted to replace 'dictatorship' with 'democracy' now want to replace 'democracy' with 'dictatorship'. Tell them: "Be patient. Let the learning process continue, especially your own, so that the next time you are more sensible." Son, repeatedly aborting the learning process has been one of our biggest mistakes. What's the point of stopping something when you have nothing new to replace it with? That's a lesson we have still not learned. Now that we have chosen the British colonialist's system, let it take whatever course it will and be done with it. Remember what I once told you: "God doesn't make states, people do." People who make a state and then abdicate its destiny to God alone without doing something about making their own destiny themselves and always blame others for their woes always come a cropper too. Remember Iqbal? Khudi ko kar buland itna kay har taqdeer say pehlay / Khuda banday say khud poochay batta tairey raza kya hai? "Take your self-esteem to such heights that when making destinies God asks Man, Ask, what is it that you wish?" The writer is a senior political and economic analyst E-mail: hl_mehdi@hotmail.com