The flight to London was long and at some stage the young Arab next to me started a conversation. He had already done three years of mechanical engineering from Australia, but abandoned the programme when he was selected for pilot training with Emirate Airline. Passionate about flying, he had a year to go before he became a pilot. He asked me if I knew Dubai. I told him I did not know about it much but thought it was an orderly, shopping city, where the weather was hot and hotter, as they say about Kuala Lumpur. He had never been to Islamabad but had heard that it was a beautiful city and I confirmed it. But developers were fast depleting its character, replacing trees with concrete. "But," he said, "It is a Muslim city. That is very important." When I asked him why he was going to London, he said he was on vacation. The plan was to spend a week seeing the sights and visit night clubs of West End. He wanted to see Islamabad, but was hesitant as it had become a dangerous city. "If that were not the case," he remarked, "why should the visa offices shift from Islamabad to Dubai? And why should the IMF and the World Bank hold their Islamabad meetings in Dubai?" he added with a smirk. In London, the news from home over the last weekend was all bad. The government had reacted to the long march call of the opposition with a massive crackdown, large scale arrests, no holds barred to stop the event. In London, the long march was being perceived as a serious threat to the incumbent leadership. Media coverage reminded people that Musharraf started the crisis by filing a corruption reference against the chief justice in March 2007. By July, the CJ was cleared of the charges by the Supreme Court, reinstating him. However on November 3, 2007 Musharraf imposed 'emergency' detaining the judges in their houses. Since they were about to give their verdict on Musharraf's eligibility as president. President Zardari promised to reinstate the deposed judges alongwith CJ Chaudhry but declined because the judges might cancel the NRO. Mian Nawaz Sharif's party, now supporting the lawyers' movement had also attacked the judiciary in the past. So, the cynics in Pakistan were quoted by the media saying that the new-found enthusiasm for an independent judiciary and rule of law was hollow. People in Pakistan had lost optimism, thanks to years of misrule and poor governance. In the middle of all this came the news last week that the federal minister of information had resigned. This was a bad blow to the incumbent president's prestige, as the minister for provincial coordination had resigned earlier. Some less prominent resignations in the party followed, showing division in the ranks. But the government - egged on by poor advisers - was going to the ridiculous extent of blocking highways and roads with barricades of cargo ship containers Knowing the angry mood of the people, I was apprehending a bloody clash. Mian Nawaz Sharif had defied the house arrest orders and come out as the head of a massive procession on March 15. According to the hapless governor, still not recovered from the shock of the recent terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, the police did not obey orders. According to one press report, they just "melted" at the first point of confrontation in front of the General Post Office on The Mall. Such was the determination of the people. On March 15 (Sunday), the tension was at its peak. But rumours were trickling that the government - behind the scene intervention of the army chief and prime minister - had prevailed upon Mr Zardari to relent and reinstate the deposed judges. But no confirmation was forthcoming, while tension persisted. However BBC confirmed it the other day. Very early that day the prime minister had gone on the TV to announce the decision. All the judges were being reinstated and the long march had been called off. I thought that deep emotion at my age was not possible, but was thrilled at the news, all depression cast away. For once in Pakistan the people had come out against years of misrule and found the leadership to force a change. Clearly, there are challenges ahead, but I must admit that I savoured the moment with a calm I had not felt in years. The writer is a former ambassador at large