The current political and economic scene in Pakistan marked by political and economic crises leads one to the conclusion that Musharraf's eight-year rule has been an unmitigated disaster for the country. On the political front, the country is dangerously destabilised because of the judicial crisis, the weakening of the various institutions of state as a result of Musharraf's quest for absolute power, disharmony among federating units, and the breakdown of law and order. Above all, the general has undermined the rule of law through repeated violations of the constitution. The situation on the economic front is equally depressing marked by grinding poverty, hunger and deprivation from which the vast majority of the people is suffering, high rates of inflation and unemployment, the energy crisis, the woeful condition of the physical infrastructure of the country, and the inadequate attention to human resource development particularly to education and health. Externally, Musharraf has turned the country into a vassal of the United States. These are the gifts bequeathed by the president and his cronies, who served as prime ministers under him, to their successors. It was not entirely surprising, therefore, that during the February general elections the people unequivocally rejected Musharraf and his misguided policies by inflicting a humiliating defeat on the King's party. Musharraf had earlier urged the people to vote for this party as a sign of support to his policies. He had even indicated that in case of the rejection of the King's party by the people, he would relinquish power. In the face of the massive electoral rejection by the people, a man with some sense of propriety would have precisely done that. But given the president's character and the contempt, in which he holds the will of the people, this was too much to expect of him. Musharraf, therefore, has dug in his heels and is fighting a desperate battle for his political survival. It does not bother him that the leading party in the ruling coalition considers him a "relic of the past", that several mainstream parties are calling for his impeachment, that ex-servicemen including his former colleagues in the army (admittedly some with questionable backgrounds having undermined the democratic process during service and having benefited from Musharraf personally after retirement from the army) are calling for his ouster and trial for his past misdeeds, and that most members of the civil society want him to resign. The recent disclosures about his unauthorised role in the planning and the execution of the Kargil misadventure, which proved to be a strategic disaster of monumental proportions, have added weight to the growing demand for his departure for having overstepped his authority. But Musharraf remains out of sync with the prevailing public opinion and the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of the people of Pakistan. The lawyers' struggle for the restoration of the non-functional judges of the superior judiciary needs to be seen against this background of systematic efforts by Musharraf to subjugate each and every institution of state in the service of his dictatorial rule. The credit for defying Musharraf's attempt to tame the judiciary goes to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who was punished for questioning the fraudulent decision to privatise the Pakistan Steel Mills which would have caused the loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer, trying to provide relief to the families of those hapless Pakistanis who had disappeared thanks to our all-powerful agencies, and extending help to the weak and the poor in our society through the exercise of his suo moto powers. This was, however, too much for our establishment led by Musharraf to stomach. When the earlier conspiracy to remove the CJP failed due to the Supreme Court verdict of July 20 last year, the general resorted to blatant violation of the constitution on November 3 to get rid of CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other honourable judges who had dared defy him. There is an overwhelming opinion within the country, especially within the legal community, that Musharraf's actions of November 3 were unconstitutional and fell within the ambit of Article 6 of the constitution. They can be validated only through an amendment in the constitution by the post-February election parliament which enjoys the mandate of the people. Logically, therefore, CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other honourable judges of the superior judiciary continue to hold their respective offices and are being prevented illegally from performing their functions. All that is required of the government of the day is to recognise the legality of this argument and restore the judges as on November 2, 2007 through an executive order. A resolution of the newly elected National Assembly will simply add moral weight to the executive order but is not a legal necessity. This position has been fully supported by several retired chief justices of Pakistan and a large number of retired judges of the superior judiciary. Therefore, the position taken by the PPP leadership that the restoration of the judges can be accomplished only through a constitutional amendment simply turns the argument on its head and can be justified only on the false premise that Musharraf's actions of November 3 were constitutionally valid. It will also lead to an indefinite delay in the restoration of the judges because the ruling coalition simply does not have the requisite majority for a constitutional amendment in the Senate. Further, the continued suspense and uncertainty in the country will prevent the government from focusing on the pressing issues of poverty, hunger, inflation and economic development. The acceptance of the validity of this premise would have the additional drawback of leaving the door open for an adventurous COAS in the future to stage a coup and violate the constitution with impunity. It is also ironical that the PPP leadership on the one hand wants to strengthen the provisions of Article 6 of the constitution relating to high treason, and on the other is prepared to accept implicitly the legal validity of Musharraf's unconstitutional steps of November 3 against the superior judiciary. Needless to add that the acceptance of the legal validity of Musharraf's actions of November 3 would deliver a severe blow to the rule of law in the country