AZAM KHALIL "Cleverness is serviceable for everything, sufficient for nothing." - Amiel Pakistan is once again in the grip of politics that is based on cleverness and hypocrisy. It is very unfortunate that even mainstream political parties have been seen involved in following political practices that find no precedents in other democratic countries of the world. However, Tehrik-i-Insaf which is still being run like an NGO by cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan has not been properly tested and therefore cannot be yet defined as a political party. Because of this reason democracy has not taken root in Pakistan which has suffered and deteriorated further, making it nearly irrelevant for the people of this country. Most of the Pakistanis have lost faith not only in the political leadership, but also have developed an attitude of indifference for political parties that function in Pakistan. Presently, the country is in a difficult phase of its existence where the armed forces are fighting insurgencies in large areas of NWFP and were also engaged in serious security issues in the province of Balochistan. These events should have been enough to tightly unite the entire country where all shades of opinion were expected to concentrate on this issue leaving their differences for another day. However, it has been seen that policies of confrontation continue to dominate the political horizon that creates despondency and could lead to the weakening of crucial institutions in the country. Another dangerous tendency that has developed is regarding the judicial activism where issues not related with the judiciary are being debated in the courts. This has resulted in creating an undue expectation amongst the people that the issues that affect their lives can only be resolved through the intervention of the courts. Presently, the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) is being fiercely debated in the media and in this heat it is being forgotten that political differences are boiling into personal attacks that is not conducive for peace and harmony in the country. This could damage the institution of democracy in the coming weeks. The PML-N leadership which firmly believes that it can only survive and thrive if they pursue politics of confrontation have once again issued statements that could leave deep and ugly scars on the institution of democracy. Both the Sharif brothers have threatened to take to the street in case the NRO was approved by the National Assembly where it is being currently debated. These statements and accusations against the Peoples Party and its allies in the National Assembly has raised temperatures to a point where political goodwill may become the first casualty in a debate that could leave no winners at the end of the day. The statements by people like Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Mian Shahbaz Sharif and Khawaja Muhammad Asif have triggered extreme response from Maulana Fazalur Rehman of JUI-F and Dr Farooq Sattar of MQM. It is very strange that the PML-N leadership after offering a public apology to the leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party for framing false political cases against them are now adopting a belligerent attitude on the issue of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. It is equally strange that the likes of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain who were the architects of this ordinance have made a complete U-turn on the subject and were virulently criticising the ordinance vowing at the same time to oppose it at every level. While it is not difficult to understand the posture of Mian Nawaz Sharif on this issue who wants to use the NRO as a bargaining chip to help him obtain the repeal of the Seventeenth Constitutional Amendment that would clear his way to become the prime minister for the third time. Yet, it is difficult to grasp the opposition of PML-Q who offered this ordinance to a variety of politicians so that there was political goodwill and harmony was established in the country. PML-N and its leadership have perhaps forgotten that they not only struck a 10 year deal with the military ruler Pervez Musharraf, but also begged for a presidential pardon that allowed them to proceed on exile. While some may want to believe that the 10 year deal with General (retd) Mush-arraf could have come under coercion, but no one believes that their application for pardon was made under any pressure. It has been reported that over 2900 people have benefited from the NRO and that includes some members of PML-N. It is not proper that any political party should renege on its earlier postures and now try to make political mileage out of the NRO when it has been presented before the National Assembly under the directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. This does not mean that NRO, if enacted into law would become a good piece of legislation. There are no two opinions that NRO is and will continue to be a bad law that was introduced by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in an effort to make an arrangement that would also ensure his political survival. At that point in time since the NRO was to benefit several leading politicians no one opened their mouth against the ordinance and PML-N was also no exception. What the general did was to invoke the 'Doctrine of Necessity' that was introduced in Pakistan by the superior judiciary in the first place. When the NRO was promulgated by Musharraf even then everyone knew that it was a marriage of convenience and nothing else and that it was not a lasting solution to the problems confronted by the democratic forces of this country. It would have been better if this issue could have been resolved in some better way or had been allowed to die down by the Supreme Court, but since that has not happened Pakistan may have to live with another bad law for the foreseeable future. However, in case the issue is taken to the streets that result in social unrest it would mean that the politicians have not learnt their lesson from history which may further result in the early demise of democracy. Social unrest would mean destabilising the whole system that may even lead to weaken the resolve of the army that is now engaged in a serious effort to wipe out insurgency. The politicians must also understand that to weaken the resolve of the army will send a wrong signal to the enemies of Pakistan who may consider it as an opportunity to further increase their efforts so that Pakistan is weakened to a position where it runs out of options and accepts the hegemonistic designs of its enemies. One strongly feels that Mian Nawaz Sharif instead of fanning the fires of division should work for national unity and try to resolve all political issues through dialogue rather than taking political issues to the streets. He must remember that the country cannot afford any political and social unrest. And in case any decision taken by Mian Nawaz Sharif and his party that results in strife or social unrest it would be considered an unfriendly act against Pakistan. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com