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WE HAVE TAKEN ONLY THE FIRST STEP IN A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES

The elections held on the 18th of February 2008 were only one step – the first step – towards restoration of democracy in Pakistan. Doubtlessly it was a major step too, if one remembers the famous dictum of Kennedy that ‘a journey of a thousand miles’ begins with a single step. Unless this single step – the first step is taken – the journey cannot start.
Let us congratulate ourselves for having taken the first step on the 18th of February 2008 and thereby commenced our journey.
But let us not be in any hurry to declare victory just because we have succeeded in arming the democratic forces with our mandate. The goal of putting Pakistan back on the track of democracy may not be a thousand miles away but it isn’t round the corner either.
Several vital steps have yet to be taken to say with any degree of confidence that no insurmountable hindrances now stand in the way of our journey.
Before I proceed to pinpoint these vital steps, let me take up for analysis the recent statement of Major General ® Rashid Qureshi, the spokesman of the President. He has said that eighty percent of the elected representatives happen to be ready to work with President Musharraf, and only twenty percent (spearheaded by Mian Nawaz Sharif) are creating hurdles. General ® Qureshi needs to know that the issue on the ground is not of working with the President, but of working for democracy in order to honour the spirit of the mandate the people have given at the polls. Ironically, contrary to General Qureshi’s statement, eighty percent mandate happens to be against saying YES to the President’s version of democracy. Meaning thereby that either these eighty percent holders of the popular mandate should absolve themselves from the responsibility of honouring the trust of their voters, in order to be in harmony with the President’s wishes and expectations; or the President should bring about a drastic change in his political beliefs.
That’s the paradox that has to be resolved. Should one man’s whims be allowed to have ascendancy above the longings of an overwhelming majority of the people?
Time is now up for the Presidential version of democracy to have its sway. It is the people’s version of democracy whose time has come.
The next logical step towards subjecting the country to the process of “the people-oriented democratization” is ‘the thorough undoing’ or complete reversal of the steps the President has taken to make his presidency the ultimate power-wielder and decision-maker. Meaning thereby that President Musharraf should convince himself that in the democracy of the people, he will be only as powerful as the two presidents preceding him were.
In true democracy, the parliament is answerable only to itself or to the people to whom it has to go back for a fresh mandate. The President represents the flag, the national anthem, and the sanctity of the statehood. Nothing less. Nothing more.

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