The dictionary defines "appeasement" as a policy of giving in to the demands of a hostile or aggressive power, in an attempt to keep the peace. But does it work as intended? A cursory glance at the history of Pakistan offers revealing clues. There is a brittle propensity in the culture not to hold the line and to swiftly succumb to pressure, whether it is internal or external. 40 years ago, President Ayub Khan was bent on trying Sheikh Mujib for treason. Under pressure, Mujib was first released and then invited to participate in negotiations. Ayub's regime ended shortly thereafter. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, during the fading days of his rule, among other measures to placate his opponents, replaced Sunday with Friday as the weekly holiday. But that did not stave off his toppling nor did it save him from the gallows. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan devoted considerable energies in prosecuting Zardari for alleged financial misdoings. He ended up releasing Zardari and swearing him in as a minister in 1993. Ishaq's Presidency ended shortly thereafter. President Musharraf, who spent a good part of his time berating Benazir, ended up conducting secret parleys with her. Musharraf's Presidency ended shortly thereafter. The core factor common to all the above instances was not newly found convictions or remorse over past actions but the desire to cling on to the Chair. Not much has changed since. The game of musical chairs goes on. Abroad, too, plenty of examples abound. Turkey has done its part to polish its secular Kemalist credentials but, to date, still cannot wedge its foot inside the door of the European Union. None was so over-zealous in genuflecting before the West as was the Shah of Iran. But, when he died in 1980, that did not help him get even 6 yards of a graveyard plot allotted to him on American soil. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposed a comprehensive peace plan, endorsed at the Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002, and readopted at the Riyadh summit in March 2007, offering Israel full recognition by all Arab nations in exchange for Israel's withdrawal to its pre-1967 boundaries and a "just solution" of the Palestinian issue. The proposal has only emboldened Israel to expand its reach. Ask India's greatest movie star, Dilip Kumar - who, except from playing Crown Prince Salim in Mughal-e-Azam, always portrayed Hindu characters on the screen - as to how many times he has been vilified because of his Muslim ancestry. The theory behind appeasement is that, if one remains quiet or goes along, looming problems disappear. But do they? Politics is often characterized as the art of compromise. But over-compromises made by unethical elites have driven the nation to the brink. Had the Quaid compromised on the core concept of Muslim nationhood, there would have been no Pakistan. His less-than-stellar successors today are ensuring that the present direction of the country is completely inconsistent with the founding spirit of the nation. Referring to appeasers, Winston Churchill remarked in January 1940: "Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured." It has been said that a politician looks at the next election, while a statesman looks at the next generation. Gunpoint deals have a short expiry date. A theory favored by US policy-makers holds that so-called 'moderates' can counter medieval militancy. However, it is the apparent extreme thievery of the 'moderate' ruling classes which empowers the religious zealots with a rallying point. In practice, the 'moderates' have given space to the spreading infection of despotic obscurantism. The substance of despotism is the same and so is its language, whether covered up in a religious robe, a khaki uniform, a 3-piece suit, or a red banner. The real threat may not come from predators who prey on the vulnerable in the garb of religion. Their threat, at least, is more open, and they are less hypocritical about their aims. They are not insidious. Indeed, they may be doing a favor by highlighting the much-neglected weaknesses of state and society. The greater threat to the nation may come from those who have deployed democracy as a tool to abuse public trust and to perpetuate themselves and their kith and kin in power. They are a major part of the problem. The ruling elites - elected or selected - have never stopped worshipping the gods of Greed. And, by continuing to do so, they have conclusively proven their unfitness to lead and their incapacity to strive for the greater good of the country. They are not big enough for the big job. The time to make a new start toward self-cleansing is now.