The political balance sheet of Pakistan since 1947 when it came into being, thanks to army take-overs and rigged election has been in deficit, the biggest setback coming in 1971 when half the country was lost. That Bangladesh is today a struggling but happily independent country is another matter. But in spite of the fact that the army faced a dismal defeat in East Pakistan in 1971, traumatising the entire nation, they took over yet again in 1977 when General Zia overthrew Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's PPP government, hanged him and ruled as a military dictator till 1988 when he was killed in a mysterious air crash. It had taken the army no more than 17 years to forget the national humiliation it was alone responsible for in Dhaka on the December 16, 1971. There was then a see-saw of civilian governments with late Ms Benazir Bhutto (PPP) and Mian Nawaz Sharif (PML) becoming prime minister twice, respectively. This went on till 1999 when General Musharraf struck on the night of October 12. He removed Mian Nawaz Sharif's elected government and took over as the chief executive, a designation invented by Mr Sharifuddin Pirzada, the chief constitutional mechanic of military take overs. Ms Bhutto being chased by Nawaz Sharif's hounds was already in a state of exile but Mr Asif Zardari was still in the country. He was arrested and put in jail by a charlatan named Saifur Rahman who had friendly relations with Nawaz Sharif. So Ms Bhutto was already in exile and Mr Zardari in jail when Musharraf took over. Mian Nawaz was thus the only one to deal with when the army took over in 1999. They imprisoned him in Attock Fort in conditions of acute hardship. A deal followed and with the help of the Saudis Mian Sahib too was sent into exile to Saudi Arabia, bag and baggage. This summarised account of events suggests a dismal outlook on conditions and, indeed, anybody you talk to today will support that view of the country. But some good things have happened too. Musharraf's coup, in a sense, was the worst thing that could happen to us. He committed us to a war the end of which is not visible to any one. He pushed us into a spiral of violent crime and an open conflict between the army and its own people in NWFP and Balochistan. In January 2007 not many people could imagine that Musharraf was about to go, there being a nexus between Washington and the military government in Pakistan. Until, that is, Musharraf tried to remove the chief justice on March 9, 2007. The CJ, unexpectedly, stood up to him. In our murky history, this was perhaps the best thing that could happen to us. The events that followed Musharraf attempt to remove the chief justice mobilised the public opinion against the military government. The lawyers turned their protest against Musharraf into a nationwide movement. The civil society woke up and lent its whole-hearted support to this movement. The political parties cashed on the opportunity and came out on the street in support of the lawyers' demand for the restoration of the judiciary. The movement for the restoration of the judiciary led to some great developments. Through sheer public pressure, exiled political leaders of mainstream parties were able to come back to the country and the demand of the election gained enough strength for them to be held. It was the same movement for the restoration of the judiciary that forced Musharraf to remove his uniform and resign as president. To cut a long story short, Musharraf had to go. The CJ and the rest of his colleagues who had been illegally removed by Musharraf were all restored last spring. This led to a new mood in the people and a sense of buoyancy: the civil society, the professionals, the political parties, the traders; everybody had joined hands to remove a military dictator and restore the CJ. In our political balance sheet this remains the single most important entry that gives us a margin of hope in spite of the nexus among Washington, the army and, sadly, the government which is still intact. But they now have an independent judiciary to reckon with. And the judiciary has the support of the people who are fed up with rising prices, load shedding and arbitrary government. Several issues are still before the court, including the notorious National Reconciliation Ordinance. In the so-called Judges' Case Musharraf has just been notified to appear before the Supreme Court for adjudication of his November 3, 2007 action when he imposed Emergency in the country as the COAS, removed the entire Supreme Court and detained them in their houses. Understandably, he was not around to receive the court notice. The writer is a former ambassador at large