One's heart warmed at the sight of a young student, Samad Khurrum, refusing to accept his Harvard University Scholarship Award from the United States Ambassador in protest against the recent NATO attacks in the Mohmand Agency. The thunderous applause that resounded the entire hall at this heroic deed reflected the deep-rooted anti-American sentiments that pervade all echelons of the national society. Among other generous offers that he may receive, Mahmood Ali Kasuri Foundation, Pakistan has already offered young Samad a full scholarship to study at the Beaconhouse National University - one of the leading Liberal Arts universities of the country - in any discipline of his choice. This spontaneous act is a microcosmic reflection of the awakening of the civil society as a result of the recent upheavals that have rocked the entire country. Much that our political leadership may endeavour to cover the burgeoning tensions that are ripping the societal fabric apart, the general state of unrest is conspicuously visible for all to see. The anti-climatic end to the Long March has apparently added to the frustrations of the people who were eagerly awaiting a Messiah to deliver them from the tentacles of the ever-eager NROed leadership and its erstwhile collaborators to bargain the verdict of the people for their petty personal survival. The deceitful webs of words that are consistently being spun around by the non-elected leadership of a political party in the garb of 'dialogue' and 'constitutionality', is actually part of its anti-democracy and anti-judiciary agenda to further elongate the hold of despotism. This has been so patently evident from the manner in which the NROed party has been trying to shield General Musharraf from a possible move for impeachment. Mr. Zardari went so far as to claim that he did not have the numbers to carry the move through as, according to him, the ANP and the MQM would not support it. While there has been no response from the MQM so far, the ANP immediately refuted the claim asserting that they had never accepted a dictator and that they would be in the forefront to support any impeachment move whenever it comes before the parliament. This and much else is only indicative of the depth to which the PPP could stoop to have the fruits of that black piece of legislation, the NRO, sanctified for the abiding comforts of its leadership. In the bargain, and in abject surrender to the dictate of the US, it would continue to sustain General Musharraf in office.  The latest round of parleys between the leaderships of the PPP and the PML-N is yet another attempt to stall the inevitable - the impeachment and trial of General Musharraf, the restoration of the judiciary and the promulgation of the rule of the law. The nationally condemned constitutional package, outlining an arduous and endless journey for the achievement of the above objectives, is, ostensibly, still doing the rounds between the so-called experts of the two principal partners of the coalition to chisel it to a point of minimal acceptability. A lost cause that it always has been, the exercise is only taking us further away from the avowed goals that every political party played to the hilt to get the votes - more so the PML-N as all its candidates took an oath to have the judiciary restored to its pre-November 3 position. Instead of remaining steadfast, various leaders are giving enough reason to the people to start doubting the extent of their commitment to the cause. The issue is further compounded in view of the oft-repeated resolve of the PML-N leadership to continue extending support to the PPP-led government in a bid to restrain it from falling into the lap of political parties that remain committed to General Musharraf. The problem is that, by refusing to withdraw support from the PPP, the PML-N seems to be doing exactly the same - sustaining General Musharraf in office The whole scenario calls for a serious rethink. The objectives of the struggle should be revisited and a clear strategy chalked out to get to the goal. Let it be realised that no half-cooked measures would do the trick. Instead, the battle lines will have to be clearly drawn and the struggle waged in strict conformity with the democratic and constitutional parameters. There are no halfway stations for resting. The battle against tyranny and dictatorship is a test of nerves and resolve. Only an unwavering commitment can pave the way to rid this country of the tentacles of a morbid and endless sequence of usurpations and put it safely on course to achieving the burgeoning aspirations of the people for an equitable and progressive society that is free from the fear of violence and extremism. By the present set of events, we seem to be lost in darkness somewhere. The unexpected and debilitating end to the historic Long March has further aggravated the crisis of leadership. It was being hoped that the legal community would be able to fill the void and provide principled leadership where the political parties had failed. But, according to general perception, a marriage between the two led to a perceptible compromise regarding the path to choose to reach the avowed destination: the path of compromise was preferred over the path of conformity to principles. The argument that is being sanctimoniously offered as the reason for doing what was done is a combination of a 'lack of resources' and a possible 'plunge into violence'. Both contentions are injudiciously erroneous. While the 'lack of resources' factor should have been looked into before embarking upon an ambitious project like the Long March, the 'plunge into violence' factor is outlandishly misleading. If about two hundred young people, out of a gathering in the hundreds of thousands, tried to cross the barricades in an apparent attempt to charge the parliament, it cannot be construed as the mood of the entire crowd that remained indescribably peaceful to the very end. The show of inverted victory signs reflected the sadness of the occasion that was in sharp contrast to the vigour, enthusiasm and determination that had been displayed in such abundance all along the way from various starting points to the final destination - Islamabad. Let it be recorded that the people of this country have never failed the leadership. In fact, it is the leadership that has always failed the people. The abhorrent NRO-PCO-General combine is out to frustrate the aspirations of the people yet again. I hope there are sufficient Samads to thwart their nefarious designs and work for the evolution of a truly egalitarian society without any chains that tie it to the myopic yardsticks of periodic compromise, even capitulation, before forces representing repression and discord. Cheers Samad. You have shown the light. May it glow far and wide The writer is a media and political consultant based in Islamabad. He can be reached at raoofhasan@hotmail.com