The one-eyed flag-bearers of democracy are up in arms again. Early last week, they used Hussain Haqqani's resignation to lambast the security establishment. And on Friday, when the NRO review petition was rejected by the Supreme Court, they breathed fire against the judiciary. Though the Eighteenth Amendment has shifted the centre of democratic gravity back to the Parliament, their zeal for democracy begins and ends at protecting President Zardari or his puppets in our government. Their criticism of other institutions is a knee-jerk reflex that is triggered off by anything with a potential to upset the rickety cart laden with rotten apples and pulled by starving serfs, a cart that they like to pass off as the sum-total of democracy. Core values of a democratic system like representativeness, transparency, accountability, equality and public welfare figure nowhere in the discourse of this kana-brigade. Surely, democracy is not the name of a person and holding of another election in 2013 without addressing these basic concerns will not bring us any closer to it. The position of these champions of hollow democracy is clear and simple: Once elected, those in positions of power are free to act as despots and kings, unhindered by the Constitution or any constraints of consultation, even within their parties or Parliament. We are told that we should not question what they do behind closed doors and how it impacts our lives. While they hold these democratic-sounding offices, we should not talk about making them accountable for their corruption, nepotism, inefficiency, even treason. We should not worry about what they do with our money, squeezed out of even our poorest fellow-citizens. After all, the electorate will throw out the bad eggs in the next election. As if that should be enough punishment for their crimes; crimes that rob not one, but millions of citizens of basic amenities, dignity, even life. This description of democracy is not acceptable to the citizens of an awakened Pakistan. The restored Supreme Court has been a bulwark against this mindset that has been actively propagated by President Zardari and his coterie, who have been hostile to the notion of an independent judiciary from day one, and precisely for that reason this is not the first time we've heard them squealing as if someone has stepped on their tail, casting aspersions on the impartiality of the court and maligning it in every possible way. These one-eyed democrats have crammed a set of charges against the court that start flying every time they don't like a judgement. They talk about the present Supreme Court, which stands on the democratic legacy of first being sacked for refusing to be a hand-maiden of the government and then being restored by a mass movement, as if it is just a continuation of everything that preceded it. They lump together every court in the country's history and their crimes, and use this charge sheet to tarnish the independence of the sitting judges. The conduct of the restored Supreme Court and its judgements speak for themselves, and the honourable judges are viewed by people as protectors of their interest. That is why, all over the country, we see people stung and bitten by those in power, appealing to the Chief Justice to come to their rescue. The Supreme Court is also painted as biased by the same one-eyed lot. Depending on the case in question, this trumpeted bias could be against the PPP, Sindh or democracy itself. References are made to unheard petitions from yesteryears like Asghar Khan's petition against secret funding to IJI in the 1988 election or more recent ones regarding Mr Bhutto's judicial murder. Common democratic sense would tell us that people stand to gain more by making the present government accountable as compared to individuals and governments that are no longer in a position to affect our lives. It is a matter of priority and, in a democratic setting, cases whose outcome could improve the lives of people should obviously be higher up on the list. A court order declaring Mr Bhutto's trial might reinforce what history books already tell us, but making RPPs pay back billions of taxpayers' rupees to the government and striking down nepotistic appointments in important national institutions hold more for the public. The Supreme Court has been blamed for encroaching upon executive authority by the same bunch. This contention has been laid to rest by another order of the Supreme Court passed last Friday that struck down the appointment of Chairman OGRA, brother-in-law of PPP's Jehangir Badar. He was appointed in violation of rules and without ascertaining the veracity of his fake degree. The order clearly states that while the executive retains the power to make appointments, it has to exercise this power in a demonstrably fair and honest manner. The removed OGRA Chief has been ordered to return salaries and privileges drawn on the public exchequer in course of his illegal service and NAB has been asked to investigate the charges of corruption involving billions of taxpayers' rupees under his chairmanship. This is not the first nepotistic appointment made by our despots with democratic-sounding titles that has been struck down by the court. Obviously, for every cronie rewarded, millions suffer. What is the argument then of the one-eyed brigade? That no one should stop these despots from treating the State as their family jagir just because they came through the electoral process? That they are not accountable to the Supreme Court and even Parliament should be a window dressing? If the security establishment has serious reservations and evidence about an important ambassador, the generals should not bring it to the notice of the elected leadership and ask for his replacement? Did they kidnap an exceptional Ambassador doing great service to the nation that no one else was capable of or was he asked to resign by the Prime Minister? What was stopping the government from holding its ground and retaining Haqqani? And if they could not take the pressure, what stopped them from resigning and going to the court of the people? That would have been a democratic thing to do. Democratically speaking, institutions of the State, including the presidency and the Parliament, must understand their constitutional limits and responsibilities. And by the way, Sherry Rehman is a huge improvement on Hussain Haqqani. The writer is an independent columnist. Email: