In Pakistan, having nearly 97 percent Muslim population, it appears to me rather odd to talk about the virtues of the holy month of Ramazan and the obvious implications on all aspects of our individual and national lifestyle. Looking around at the crowded mosques for Namaz-i-Travehi and the overwhelming percentage of the population observing the symbolic fast with due solemnity, one is inclined to believe that the holy month would certainly bring about a true change of heart not only amongst the rank and file of the public at large but also among the leaders. In fact it is this element of leadership which sets an example for others to follow as a role model. Needless to say, such role models covers all areas of the national life including political leadership, religious, social, economic, cultural and business areas etc. Those dealing with the foreign policy and other inter-state affairs are, of course, not exempted from the broad principles of conduct enshrined in the Holy Quran. It is unfortunate, even painful to note the gulf that separates our deeds from our avowed claims and commitments. Looking around the breakdown in law and order and rising crimes at national level, unabated terrorism, hoarding and disappearance of essential commodities, etc expose the hollowness of our claims to belong to an Islamic society. The introduction of the Ramazan/ sassta bazaars by the government, supervised by no less than CM Shahbaz Sharif in person, during the course of which high officials of the rank of District Coordination Officers have been sacked, is a confession of the shameful moral state of our society in which from the ministers/mill owners to retail shopkeepers/petty officers lack the required traits of Islamic values, patriotic national norms and economic implications of their misconduct on the erosion of the state. The worse is the involvement of the top cadres of the society in this ugly game. The only hope is democracy. Are we making any positive advance in this direction? All the major political parties signed the Charter of Democracy (COD) many years ago. With an elected government in place and an independent judiciary in the driving seat to clear all road blocks faced by the Parliament. Alas The common man does not feel that the graph of his many deprivations has come down by any degree. On the contrary, his woes are on the rise. The poverty line is touching the SOS mark of danger where the public anger may take a dangerous course at anytime unless the political leadership in the government and in the opposition shows the some vision. This reminds me of the treaty between the ruling alliance led by the PPP and the friendly opposition headed by the PML-N. Some of the opposition groups, however, are not so friendly like JUI, TI and PML-Q because of the Sharif's having entered into an alliance with the PPP in Punjab. It is anybody's guess how far these two strange bedfellows shall endure each other. Although both major parties swear adherence to the COD but in practice there is no meeting point visible in the near future. It is not my conjecture or negative speculation. I have been an optimist all my life and still remain so in spite of all the threatening dark clouds. But how can anyone close his/her eyes to the gathering storm. The open rift between PPP and PML-N over Musharraf's trial, the doing away of the 17th amendment, etc are well known irritants between them. Suddenly various elements including certain top level retired officers and heads of various important agencies have stirred issue like army action against MQM in 1992 when Nawaz Sharif was the PM. The implication is obvious. At the critical point of this controversy, the reported meeting between Asif Zardari and Altaf Hussain in London is very significant in the backdrop of above mentioned demand of an inquiry by MQM. It certainly does not promote the reconciliation process trumpeted so loudly. In fact many political pundits are reading too much into recent political development of this nature taken as a whole, as part of a speculated great game on the cards. The writer is the president of the Pakistan National Forum