The country has entered into a decisive phase of democratic development in the wake of February 2008 elections which were made possible by the now (infamous and) scrapped NRO. The judiciary and press have come of age even though they took a long time coming. It has taken the two institutions a few months to cover the long distance of more than sixty years. The 442 member Parliament, positioned rather symbolically between the Presidency and the high towers of judiciary has not appeared to be in step with the fast pace of political developments. A legislature disabled by Musharraf's 17th amendment is obviously lagging in comparison to the sure-footed speed of our magistracy and journalism. The Parliament that is supposed to be the most powerful organ of the state in a normal parliamentary system looks like a house of cards placed on waves of sand. What holds the elected representatives from rising to the occasion? The question would be raised with increasing frequency in the weeks and months ahead. The republic seems firmly railed on the path of democracy but this apparent infirmity of the parliament can provide an excuse to the undemocratic forces to uproot the system. The Raza Rabbani Committee seems astonishingly out of touch with the lightning pace of events taking place in the country. If this Committee only pulls its head from sand just once, it would see that the world around it has changed beyond recognition. They say a stitch in time saves nine. If the Parliament fails this time, the entire blame for the failure of democracy would rest on the shoulders of these 422 lawmakers. They must finish within weeks the job of restoring the 1973 constitution in its entirety. -BASHIR MALIK, Islamabad, December 19.