IT is unfortunate that the Pakistani leadership should become so indifferent to its sovereign right of taking decisions on internal matters without any foreign interference that outsiders have become prone to freely poking their noses and keep tendering counsels, which are not only unwanted but also harmful to the development of democratic traditions in the country. The US is the most frequent culprit and, taking their cue from the fact that it is never pulled up by Islamabad, European countries also occasionally take the liberty of expressing their opinions where they should be minding their own business. Mr Boucher's sermon that Pakistani leaders should focus on problems the country was facing and rather than bicker about the issue of the President's future, squarely falls into that category. While the problems of price hike and power shortage should, indeed, be worrying the government, the question of rank unpopularity and lack of legitimacy of the President cannot be brushed under the rug, especially since his failure to provide for the required infrastructure (in agriculture as well as power sectors) puts him clearly in the dock. His continuance in office, thus, offends fundamental democratic principles. From offering advice on completely internal matters to asserting the right to interfere is just a single step. US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mullen has shed the niceties of diplomatic norms and maintained that his country can take military action against Al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in Pakistan without giving prior information to the government. His acknowledgement, "Pakistan is a sovereign country" then becomes meaningless. One can understand the rationale of Washington's focus on the fight against terrorist and extremist elements. But Islamabad, which has to bear the brunt of its ill-conceived policies that have cast their long shadows on the law and order situation in the country, would be in a better position to judge how to face the challenge. There should be no question about the absolute necessity of engaging those forces in talks that are ready to respond positively to the government's peaceful overtures and commit to abide by the writ of the state. It bears repeating that instead of finding faults, the Americans should be making good on their promises of establishing reconstruction opportunity zones. Economic opportunities and education attainments would act as automatic weaning agents from the thoughts of waging wars. But, then, the US would also have to stop adopting aggressive postures and vacate the lands it has occupied.