The penny has finally fallen The coalition has fallen apart; whatever gloss the leaders may like to put on it. We should all be thankful to the leadership of Peoples Party for shaking us out of a state of wishful stupor. How could one be so nave as to expect a miraculous moral reformation of such well-known characters "But the hearts of men are easily corrupted... And the ring of power has a will of its own." Those who have read the epic work of J.R.R. Tolkien and seen the screen version of the same just cannot miss the analogous political live play being enacted these days in Pakistan. I have often wondered whether nations also have souls like individuals, and if they do, then where does morality really reside; an amorphous though cardinal underpinning of any character.  If we have to sum up the sordid details of Pakistan's political misfortune, then perhaps we can aptly say that our woes primarily emanate from a deeply embedded immorality in the collective psyche of our ruling oligarchy. Notwithstanding the serious nature of the prevailing financial crisis, what should really worry the nation is total moral bankruptcy of our predatory elites. Ever since the infamous Doctrine of Necessity first raised its ugly head, it has gone from strength to strength.  Hypocrisy, greed and avarice for power have been continually practised in the garb of national interest. It is high time that we face the stark truth and call a spade a spade. The deal in the ploy of NRO had nothing to do with restoration of democracy or rule of law.  It was a simple and straightforward quid pro quo between PPP and Musharraf; engineered and sponsored by the Americans to safeguard their own interests, with MQM being an indirect but strong beneficiary. With the symbiotic relationship now in place, pre-February 18 establishment remains safely ensconced in portals of power and freshly reprieved can savour their ill-gotten riches under the umbrella of NRO. All the innocent lives lost on May 12, 2007, all the sacrifices made and hardships endured by the civil society since March 09, 2007, and resounding verdict given by the people of Pakistan against autocracy and time-serves have been brushed aside in the name of reconciliation. What a farce in the name of reconciliation What do the ordinary people of Pakistan get in the bargain? Same old status quo of hypocrisy, loot and plunder Peoples Party made compromises in the name of realpolitik in 1988 but it could neither save its government nor could roll back the pernicious legacy of Zia. What makes them think that the result would be anything different this time? Truly "the more things change, the more they remain same" in Pakistan. The concerns and welfare of ordinary people were never at centre stage in Pakistan. It has always been a Machiavellian power grab and perpetuation in the name of high sounding slogans. Only it has worsened with every passing decade. Now another yarn is being spun. Restoration of judiciary is not the real issue; people are more concerned with the rising levels of poverty and worsening law and order situation. As if a choice has to be made between the two. If absence of the rule of law and a free hand to greed and plunder could ensure prosperity and peace then by now we should have been at the top of the world. This is exactly what we have been practising since 1958 in one form or the other. The issue of restoration of pre-November 3 judiciary has to be viewed in this sorry context. Left to themselves, PPP will come up with a cosmetic charade leading to an even more pliant judiciary. Let's not suffer from any more illusions. There is a confluence of interest among four main players: USA, Musharraf, PPP and MQM - all are being driven by their own self-interest and the coming events are going to be shaped by these inter-dependent interests. Unchecked greed for power and riches has ruined many nations. Let's not be one of them. Much time has been lost but redemption can still be made. For fans of Tolkien, he also said, Not all those who wander are lost; Deep roots are not reached by frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken: The crownless again shall be king.