My last Straight Talk article had been based on the two simple phrases - CHANGE and YES WE CAN, that had won the hearts and minds of many Americans and the people around the world. They were also instrumental in breaking down the racial and social barriers and taboos in America and led to Mr. Obama's election victory. I have received quite a few emails that have shared my views on the American elections, however, some readers pointed out, that it was not just the two catchy phrases, but the conviction, honesty and sincerity behind those words that made people believe that yes, if we change, then we can make a difference. But some asked the obvious question, which of our twice elected two leaders, of which one is an 'accidental leader', even matches anywhere close to Mr. Obama? And as one email pointed out, 'our ministries and assemblies are filled with Ali Baba and his forty thieves. They have tricked the nation twice and now they are trying for the third time. For many of us, there doesn't seem to be a solution in sight'. Just for the record, it has been pointed by some friends, that Barraq in Swahili means barkaat, i.e. rehmat. Being realistic, one has to agree. During the election campaign, our twice-elected political parties had promised the citizens radical changes in our system of governance, with supremacy of parliament, the restoration of the sacked judges, good governance, enforcement of the rule of law, etc. Eleven months have passed since the elections and yet we are still being tossed around like a rudderless ship on a choppy ocean, floundering from one rock to another. And it seems that there is no harbor in sight, as our captain has failed to select the right crew to manage this limping Titanic of a country. In the last eleven months, key ministries have been managed on an ad hoc basis, resulting in a total lack of governance. And as in the past, the game of musical chairs continues and incompetent ministers and advisors come and go. And now we have 70 odd ministers of all shapes, colors and sizes to manage the affairs of a bankrupt country that is surviving on loans and bail outs. The tragic part is that, except for a few, most of these appointees are not serious about their responsibilities and are square pegs, forced to fit into round holes, in order to accommodate friend and foe and as 'reward' for party loyalty, irrespective of their experience, honesty and capabilities. As such, their policies are doomed to failure and under the present conditions, our system of governance can never improve. The non-serious attitude of our 'enlightened and educated' senior parliamentarians are well described by Amina Jilani, in her article 'The house has become a joke', (Nation, Sunday 25th Jan 09), where she writes: "It is becoming clearer by the day that Pakistan is being run by a bunch of delinquents who are totally clueless as to any mode of governance". She then refers to a report of December 16th, 08, on the outrageous conduct of some senior PPP ministers during the Question Hour. The deputy speaker had to finally tell them, "this house has become a joke", as it witnessed open disrespect to the chair by the laughing and chatting of the senior parliamentarians, who should have known better. Is it a wonder that the world looks upon us with suspicion and disrespect? The government has failed to enforce its writ in the tribal areas, which are now out of its control and are being controlled by the Taliban, who want to enforce their own laws. And the insurgents and the Americans are attacking and bombing the area when and where they please, including schools. The credibility of the government has reached rock bottom, as America has defiantly announced that it will continue attacks inside Pakistani territory, which are killing innocent women and children who the Americans look upon as collateral damage, without consulting the government. Even the credibility of the Judiciary has been further tarnished due to the lingering scandal of the 'fixing' of the examination marks of the CJ's daughter. And now, we are to witness another 'long march' by the 'Black Coats', in an attempt to restore the sacked CJ, who claims that he is still the CJ of Pakistan. Claiming that the terrorists involved in the attack on the Taj and Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai were non-state actors and asking for proof or playing the denial game is not going to help build up our credibility. In fact, stone-walling is tarnishing the country's credibility further and has raised the question of the government's ability to control the radicals and eradicate the terror groups in Pakistan. It also raised doubts about the survival of this government. In her recent article, 'Why governments fail', Ms. Farzana, an acting director of the Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University, has stated: 'The present government has shown no ability to manage the serious domestic problems of growing militancy, fading economy, deteriorating law and order, social unrest caused by inflation, unemployment, non-availability of essential food and utility items and the political turmoil in Balochistan'. Good governance is like a sport's team, it can never succeed on an individual basis. This has been well demonstrated by our miserable failure in the sports arena. From being heroes, we have become zeros in cricket and hockey due to poor leadership, the lack of team spirit and the failure to work as a team. Similarly, good governance needs the support of all players and can only be established with a collective effort of all stake holders, the government in power, the opposition and the citizens. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, all stake holders have different agendas and visions, especially the government in power, who always wants to go it alone. As such we end up with each stakeholder pulling in a different direction, resulting in continuous instability, uncertainty and apprehensions about the survival of the government, with the army ready to leap into action when opportunity strikes. Perhaps our leaders should listen to what Mr. Obama had to say during his acceptance speech: "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you build, not on what you destroy - To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." The message is loud and clear and very much similar to what George Bush had given to Gen. Musharraf after 9/11: "You are either with us or against us". Obama's message is covered in velvet, but carries the same veiled warning. And he is no GB and will not take any nonsense or stonewalling, which are leaders are so good at. They will have to walk the talk if they do not wish to be crippled. Now we have to wait and see where in history our leaders take us. Will they have the courage and the wisdom to take Pakistan onto the world stage, to join the League of Nations, or will we continue to live in a fools paradise and end up on the rubbish heap with other failed states, only time will tell. E-mail: trust@super.net.pk