It is regrettable that Pakistan's 61 year history is basketful of the debris of broken promises. Urdu poetry which is a form of the country's national language is also replete with unfulfilled promises of the beloved. Mirza Ghalib Says: Ghazab kiya tere wade pe eitbaar kiya / Tamaam raat qayamat ka intezaar kiya (It was terrible that I believed your word and waited the whole night in great anguish). After the murder of Pakistan's first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistani politicians kept promising to form the country's democratic constitution, but it took them nine years to draft the first constitution in 1956. However, this constitution was abrogated by General Ayub Khan as soon as he imposed martial law in the country. He promised to give another constitution to the country but it took him another six years to give the nation its second constitution in 1962, which he drafted himself. Ayub Khan, who hated the press, took over all publications of Progressive Papers Limited and arrested the editors under the Security Act. Director News of Radio Pakistan, Mr Sarfaraz was appointed administrator of PPL to harness all its publications in the service of the government under the National Press Trust (NPT). When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to power he promised the nation to abolish NPT and give freedom to the media. He, however, did not fulfill this promise and NPT remained throughout his tenure. President Ziaul Haq topped the list of "broken promises", when after overthrowing the Bhutto government he promised to hold elections within three months. Addressing the nation on both TV and Radio on July 27, 1977, General Zia gave the assurance that elections "shall - Insha Allah - be held in October." He added: "The world shall see this great nation electing its representatives in free and fair elections which will lead to the establishment of a national government to which the armed forces of Pakistan shall hand over the power that they now hold in trust." He also pointedly urged the voters to cast their ballots only for "the one who is a true Pakistani and a momin (true Muslim)." General Zia assured that the media would be free to give even-handed coverage to the candidates of all political parties during the election campaign. He repeated his "promise" in Khana-e-Kaaba and also in the UN General Assembly, but it was never fulfilled and he ruled the country for eleven long years. Within ten days of coming to power, General Zia told the Newsweek correspondent Edward Behr, who had expressed some doubts about the general's commitment to elections. However, Zia told him: "If you have any doubts you can come to Pakistan and see the elections with your own eyes." Mr Behr indeed came to Pakistan on October 19 to call Zia's bluff. In those days our national network used to often air a verse from the Holy Quran: "Fulfil your promises; God will hold you accountable for it." Later this Ayat was censored. When Nawaz Sharif came to power in 1997 for the second time, he conducted the nuclear tests on May 28, 1998 much against the wishes of the United States which clamped economic sanctions on Pakistan. Mian Shaib imposed a freeze on withdrawals from foreign currency accounts ostensibly to safeguard the country's precious foreign exchange reserves, but on the night of May 28-29, those "near and dear ones" who had prior access to the government's decision, withdrew, according to the government's own admission US$ 200 million, while the opposition claimed that the total withdrawn amount was US$ 500 million. Nawaz Sharif promised that action would be taken against the banks which were operative on the night of May 28-29, but apparently, no action was ever taken, nor the names of those privileged few who had the bank vaults opened in the darkness of the night to withdraw their wealth were ever published. After the departure of President Musharraf from the scene, Mr Zardari who became the co-chairman of the ruling PPP and later assumed the office as president, "promised" verbally and in writing three times to restore the judges who were deposed by the dictator unconstitutionally. But he went back on these promises. This led to a mass agitation by the lawyers who were supported by the Sharif brothers Muslim League and several other political parties. President Zardari's persistent refusal to honour his "promises" plunged the beleaguered country in a mass agitation under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and the nation faced political instability and economic ruin. The Holy Quran has repeatedly warned those who do not fulfil their promises of dire consequences, but the Pakistani governments never heeded the warnings and were thrown out with ignominy. On March 15, however, a massive lawyers march led by Mian Nawaz Sharif and participated by tens of thousands of people including political activists of several parties, which was teargassed and beaten on Lahore's Mall Road, put unbearable pressure on the president and prime minister till they succumbed and agreed to restore all deposed judges and this looming crisis on the country was averted. There is a Persian verse which is applicable to our present situation: Her che daana kunad, kunad nadaan / Lek bad as kharabi-e-bisyar (An unwise person does the same which is done by a wise person. But the unwise person does it after a great deal of damage has been done). The writer is a former director news, PTV E-mail: