Press guns have been relentlessly fired at the US visit of Asif Zardari (in his new presidential guise which is taking some getting used to), all, that is, apart from the 'article writers' in the employ of the Information Ministry. Taking into account the fact that Asif is a relic of the politics of the 1990s, and has had the benefit of Benazir's tutelage, he could have performed better. He went overboard on a selection of issues, such as the Marshall Plan reference in his address to the UNGA (photograph of Benazir placed carefully on the rostrum), his remarks to Sarah Palin and Joe Biden (luckily he was restricted to the vice presidential candidates), and of course the famous "world is a safer place" statement which beggars belief. Could it have slipped his mind that a mere nine months earlier his wife had been murdered, and that on September 20 the leading hotel in his capital city had been blown up? What were his 'handlers' up to? The most humorous of the reports on his gaffes came from the Observer last Sunday. On the Palin incident the report had it that the "room was filled with sycophantic Pakistani officials, Palin was first slobbered over by the country's information minister..." Zardari, not to be outdone, did his bit. Quite factually, "this hyperbolic flattery is common in elitist social circles in Pakistan...and with his flagrant display of sleaze-ball rhetoric, Zardari unwittingly symbolised the turbulent and twisted relationship between the US and its volatile, erstwhile lover, Pakistan." Back home, the majority of Pakistanis continue blithely to exist in their state of denial, seeing motes in everyone else's eyes and ignoring those in their own. Incessant demands continue for the respect of the country's sovereignty, to which, as a sop to Pakistan, the American response is that yes, of course, it will be respected. But the Americans have their own national interest to guard, as does Pakistan, and power-wise they have the upper hand. As for Zardari's guardianship of our sovereignty, as Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution in Washington put it, "If the military doesn't do what he wants it to do, he doesn't have sovereignty. He's been elected president, but that's meaningless." The anti-Americanism now sweeping Pakistan, spurred on by the Taliban and their supporters who can see no farther than the end of their noses, is pure hypocrisy. The most rabidly vocal of our anti-Americanism subscribers would sell their souls for a US visa. Reportedly, a recent poll released on September 22 had it that 68 percent of Americans support taking military action in Pakistan to kill terrorists whether or not the Pakistan government gives them permission to do so. An email message to a friend, puts the American point of view into a neat perspective: "As an American who has worked and lived in Pakistan I find it interesting to hear Pakistanis recite Ayub Khan's mantras, 'we are your most allied of allies,' and 'we have done so much for you, what have you done for us?' and endless variations of that theme. The recent variant, of course, has been that Pakistan has been fighting 'America's war' on terrorism. Over the years, Americans have seen things in a rather different light. While we have used Pakistan for our purposes (part of our 'containment policy' during the Cold War) Pakistan used us to arm itself against India. We both looked after our self-interests - no surprises there. But over the years the US also did some other things in Pakistan which, yes, served our interests in an indirect way, but certainly served Pakistan's interests and are never remembered - and thus we are told that Pakistan has not gained a dime's worth of political mileage from us. From the 1960s to the 1980s Pakistan was filled with USAID projects. Was the Agricultural School in Faisalabad of no use? It's probably nothing now, to be honest. Do you want an example of more recent help? Who brought immediate and enormous relief to the victims of the earthquake in Azad Kashmir? No one in Pakistan remembers that now. We resent that. "As far as the War On Terror, let the people of Pakistan reflect. In the four months that I was in Pakistan 17 terrorist bombs went off throughout cities in Pakistan. Bombs were not going off in the United States. So, whose War On Terror is this? Do the people of Pakistan really think that their government's half-hearted effort to deal with the Taliban is just to serve the interests of the USA? All I heard when I was there, this year, was that Pakistan was doing whatever it was doing (and to me that was unclear) on the War On Terror for America. "I have great affection and admiration for many Pakistanis. But collectively, to be brutally frank, it is a country of adolescents who do not take responsibility for their problems and face reality. The United States is not Daddy to whom they can turn when they want a new car or whom they can spurn when they are angry. Pakistan and Pakistanis have all the skills, and most of the resources, to deal with the very serious problems they face today. Security is far and away the most serious. Don't think you are doing it for us. You are doing it for you. Forget silly issues like Kashmir, an enormous waste of treasure and international prestige, an issue about which no other country - zero - cares about. Focus on domestic security now and you will get all the help from us you need." The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: