This week, it would not be polite to talk of anything but the War on Terror, for after all Islamabad received a visitor, even though he probably complains at home about how often he has to go to Islamabad to talk about the War, and how Islamabad has suddenly become a high-risk area for shoes, ever since the Seraikis got a lock on the offices of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and though these are the two useless meetings of them all, the spitting habits of the current incumbents means that meeting them means a perfectly good pair of shoes covered by the incumbents, and the consequent abandonment of those shoes, and probably the trousers as well. This was the first thought that came to mind when the news came that American Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher had come to Pakistan. Another thought that would not go away once it had come was how complicated democracy had made life for not just Boucher, but virtually every foreign visitor to Islamabad. Previously, they called on one person, and they had tick-marked the head of state, the head of government, the COAS and the Chairman Joint Chiefs. Only the Foreign Minister was left, and he was more or less a personal attendant of the Chief Executive. Now, they have to call on four different people, and then they have to call separately on the Foreign Minister. Then there are the meetings with the heads of the various parties which are partners in the current coalition. Now the only ones who count in the true sense are the Army Chief and the Chairman. The rest are merely noises in the ear, so many irritants. This is not directed at any individual, but is generally true. So Boucher, and so many other diplomats, have sacrificed their shoes in vain over relatively useless meetings, in the service of their country. The coalition should give the Foreign Ministry to some party other than the PPP. Not that Shah Mahmood Qureshi has made any mistake, but just to make life entirely miserable for the foreign visitor. And if any foreign visitor is enlivened by the thought of his shoes, then the PML-N is always ready to give its very own Javed Hashmi, who is also from Multan, to depress them once again. And Boucher should thank his stars that he is not a certified Bengali like India's Pranab Mukherjee. Mukherjee has had two meetings with Shah Mahmood, both with him in full flood, while wearing Bengali slippers in accordance with the dictates of the time of the year. Let Shah Mahmood be the Defence Minister for a change. Let generals wear slippers instead of boots also, while dealing with the minister. Despite all the denials, our generals, who were first quite relieved when AQ Khan made his initial statement, but now that he has said that the proliferation was under their supervision, that relief has disappeared, and all sorts of vile accusations are being hurled at AQ. Surely now there must be some regret that Musharraf has left nothing of the good old 'foreign hand' accusation. Wouldn't now be the time to dismiss AQ with the statement that he was doing all this because of a foreign hand? The problem is, all of the foreign hands are friends now. There is one thing to be said, though. Simple. Just accuse AQ of being Al-Qaeda. Or Taliban. End of story. Or rather, end of AQ. All Musharraf has to say is that Osama Ben Laden has gone to dinner at AQ's residence, and the CIA will send a drone with a missile. Of course, Musharraf will have to say this in the right quarters, but he knows best which they are. Maybe the latest visitor from Washington, but before Qureshi (Shah Mahmood, of course, not Rashid) finishes off their shoes. I see that the PPP has again given the PML-N until the end of the month to decide or not to rejoin the Cabinet. One can imagine the PPP Ministers currently holding office getting all blistered from having to hold PML-N portfolios as well as the one they have been allotted on the PPP quota. The most pressure being exerted for the Cabinet to be brought to its previous strength is from the ranks of PPP backbenchers, who wouldn't have had a chance before of being made parliamentary secretaries, but who now have hopes of a full-fledged ministry. Of course, the PPP leadership could spoil this game by solving the judges issue, and never mind the embarrassment this would cause the President. After all, after the embarrassment caused by AQ, what embarrassment could be left? This would leave the ministerial hopefuls aspiring to parliamentary secretaryships.