Mr Asif Ali Zardari has committed the same mistake in imposing the Governor's Rule in Punjab as General Musharraf did two years ago when he tried to remove the Chief Justice of Pakistan. With a complete hold on all instruments of power, he survived for eight years; but in the end made a costly mistake. His attempt to remove the CJ led to a tide of hostile public opinion, at home and abroad, which swept him out of power: he had to resign. The generals, who supported him in 1999 when he took over in a coup, withdrew their blessings and Musharraf was on his way. Similarly, Mr Zardari, fast losing popularity on account of heading a failing government that came up as the result of various deals, thought he could control things better from the centre if he had the control of the Punjab, the biggest province of the country. After a controversial judgement of the Supreme Court disqualifying Mian Shahbaz Sharif, he imposed Governor's Rule, transferring total administrative power of the province to his appointee, the governor. Zardari was exercising power provided in the constitution to be used in extreme emergencies. But in his desperation to have his own government in Punjab, he used it though no emergency existed in the province; in fact Punjab was the best run provincial government in the whole country. The Provincial Assembly remains intact, but rather than call them into a session immediately in the true spirit of the constitution to let them elect a parliamentary leader replacing Mian Shahbaz Sharif who had ostensibly lost his seat, the governor and his team went about horse-trading to create a PPP majority. This blatancy is going to cost the party dearly. But otherwise, the governor moved fast: overnight he changed the top to mid level officials all over the province and began to reverse some popular measures of the Sharif government. A week later, as the new administration was still finding their feet, there was an armed attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, killing a number of policemen and injuring several players. The event was recorded by CCTV and aired on several TV channels, leaving people aghast at the gross security lapses leading to the incident. The fact is that the administration had fairly specific intelligence of this. The fact is that the top management of the province was busy wooing MPAs and had no time to closely plan the security of the Sri Lankan cricket team. In the event, all the twelve attackers escaped. They have not till the time of this writing (Tuesday) been arrested. What a shameful scandal for those who might have a sense of shame. Many people talk about the corruption of the PPP's top leadership that hounded them all over the world before the promulgation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) issued by Musharraf in 2008 as the result of a deal brokered abroad to accommodate Mr Zardari as Musharraf had to be eased out. The government of Pakistan withdrew as a party from the cases, including those pending in the Swiss courts. In the absence of the government as an aggrieved party, there was no victim The cases were thus dropped. Soon after, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated he took over the control of the party and re-entered the mainstream of politics. Perhaps people can live with all this. However, what about his reneging on solemn written agreements with the PML-N? PML-N entered into an alliance with him on certain conditions. One critical condition was to reinstate the deposed CJ through a resolution of the Parliament, restoring the pre-November 3, 2007 judiciary that Musharraf had removed illegally and unconstitutionally. There was also agreement on removing the dubious 17th amendment that Musharraf had introduced to retain power in his own hands. When the PPP government took over about a year ago, it was hoped that the agreements signed earlier in Murree and Islamabad would be honoured and the deposed judges would be reinstated. This did not happen, causing bad blood with the PML-N that has finally led to the present crisis. As I write, the entire nation is sitting tense and apprehensive over what is going to happen in the next few days. The lawyers' movement that started two years ago for the restoration of judiciary and the rule of law has acquired a new momentum and character. It has spread far and wide in the country and seems in a state of temper over the indifferent attitude of the government on issues that it had committed publicly to move fast on before taking over. They now have full and unqualified support of PML-N, which is riding on a surge of national popularity, as well as JI, PTI and the civil society. On the other side is Mr Zardari in a sand castle, with a bunch of apologists. The battle lines are drawn as the date for the sit-in approaches. The writer is a former ambassador at large