Beloved Pakistan is stuck in a political, economic and constitutional quagmire. No institution–the executive, the parliament, the judiciary, the Election Commission of Pakistan and the establishment–seems to be able to pull it out of this ever-deepening morass, other than a bold and decisive move by you as the leader of the country. The nation is justified in looking up to you, Mr Prime Minister, to rise to the occasion in a national spirit over and above your ego, petty political considerations and narrow party interests to find a way forward to end the current crippling turmoil. A right decision at the right moment is the hallmark of a leader. It is easy to fan the fissures in society and the governing structures to advance one’s political interests. Only petty and selfish politicians indulge in political machinations to stay in power. Leaders are driven by their nation’s aspirations, public welfare and security of the country. They dare to hold the bull by its horns and reach out to political foes and friends to find a way to take their land out of the whirlwind of crisis. The recent history is embellished by the achievements of such leaders in our region and beyond. A few names etched in my mind are M A Jinnah, Karamchand Gandhi, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, General De Gaulle, Helmut Kohl, Nelson Mandela, Lee Kwan, Mahatir Muhammad and many more. The Late Z A Bhutto acquired a niche in the constellation of these leaders by building the Pakistan that we call our country today, which our ungrateful elite is bent on tearing apart. Bhutto worked indefatigably to gather the scattered pieces to rebuild the country; monitoring the Constitution-making, addressing the post-war issues, and restoring the nation’s confidence. Leaders dare to hold the bull by its horns and reach out to political foes and friends to find a way to take their land out of the whirlwind of crisis. It was not easy to have “almost unanimity” for the adoption of the 1973 Constitution. Late Bhutto reached out to his bitter political foes, including Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Mufti Mahmood, and Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi, for support of this national document. He knew that the life span of our previous two Constitutions was cut short by adventurous political assassins. He believed that the power of the national consensus behind this Magna Carta could work as a deterrent against its violation by praetorian forces. The Constitution was held in abeyance, suspended, amended, and distorted according to the whims of the dictators, but it displayed resilience and bounced back to guide the nation on the democratic path. The Constitution is under attack again, not by a tyrant but by our political impetuosity, rigidity and short-sightedness. No political party, political leader or national institution can genuinely claim to have not been polluted by this political and constitutional waywardness. The political squabble that our leaders are exasperating by their rigidity has ruthlessly pulled and pushed and adversely impacted every state institution; making it controversial. What could be more devastating for a nation where all the three state pillars–the Executive, the Parliament, and the Judiciary–are at loggerheads with each other and torn down by internal dissensions? The parliament passes resolutions against judicial decisions signed by a few dozens parliamentarian out of the House of over 300 members. The executive finds uneasy comfort in the convenient interpretation of the constitutional clauses trampling upon the prerogative of the superior judiciary. To make the judiciary bendable, the wings of the Chief Justice are being clipped through the truncated Parliament. The National Bureau of Accountability has already been rendered toothless. The trial courts have been returning cases of corruption involving less than Rs 50 million. The regime has turned its focus to the single opposition leader and his followers. They are being hounded by Punjab and the Capital police in hundreds of fabricated cases to the gleeful mirth of the worthy Ministers. What we face today is a fractured polity, an unabated political tussle, a hollowed-out economy, dysfunctional industry, capital flight, brain drain, unemployment, inflation and poverty unprecedented in history. Is it not a dismaying failure of the PDM’s coalition regime? After one year in power, ministers harp on the same musical strings about the economy destroyed by the PTI. Some journalists and intellectuals, quite disingenuously, hold the opposition leader responsible for the deteriorating political and economic chaos. In which country of the democratic world do the opposition leaders let rulers go scot-free despite their gross failure? In every democratic regime, the opposition has the established privilege to expose and discredit the rulers. It is the task of the regime to create congenial political conditions and reach out for the cooperation of the political opponents, and not vice versa. Our rulers should mind that unleashing the coercive state power against their political opponents, defying the Supreme Court’s verdicts and rendering the state institutions toothless or making them bendable by impulsively amending the laws through the pliant parliament would not help them take the country out of the current morass. These political and parliamentary machinations may prolong their power by a few months, but would not refurbish their political fortunes, which they are desperately seeking before any electoral battle, or address the multiple crises facing the nation. The choice is with you, Mr Prime Minister. All is not lost. You have a few options. Firstly, you accept gracefully the verdict of the Supreme Court holding elections in Punjab and KPK. Secondly, you reach out to the opposition leader to seek a mutually acceptable date for general elections if your partners desire to have the national and provincial elections simultaneously. Thirdly, bow out if you find it difficult to exercise the first and second options. The nation cannot endure the agony of watching its country precariously hang on the edge. The popular mood has always been unpredictable. Our populace has had enough of these crises. They need a small pretext to turn into an unforgiving mob. The author was a member of the Foreign Service of Pakistan and he has authored two books.