The countrys media thrives on conspiracy theories, as do the millions who follow it whether by print or the mass of television channels with their handful of semi-professional talk show pundits who regale us with their drips and drabs of what is supposed to be wisdom. Of late, we are in overdrive. We had the Kerry-Lugar debate - or rather the outpouring of venom against a perceived loss of honour, an infringement on sovereignty and a goodly slice of money for the alleviation of the shortcomings of governance which glare us in the eye. US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke rightly said that he never knew it was so difficult to give away money, and he was not far off the mark when he later stated that the opponents of Kerry-Lugar were either out to get the present government or were sympathisers with the Taliban. Kerry-Lugar is now part of the Republics life - we have taken with one hand and delivered a slap with the other. The conspiracy theory revolving around Pakistans ambassador in the US is also somewhat off the mark and it is totally unrealistic to expect him to influence the Congress. He apparently managed to tone down some of the offending wording of the bill, but that is all. Let us not forget Ambassador Sahibzada Yakub Khan, a three-star General, who in 1990 was unable to stop the Pressler Amendment. Then we had the Hillary Clinton visit which totally eclipsed the weekly toll of death and destruction (suicide and other bomb blasts with their accompanying deaths are no longer top headlines, they take second place to whatever mania rules). It was made reasonably clear to the US secretary of state that the sentiment expressed in August by a Pakistani journalist to the US Under Secretary of State Judith McHale, you should know that we hate all Americans. From the bottom of our souls we hate you, was not far off the mark. Her sangfroid and reaction to the accusation, often inaccurate, levied against her government was admirable. It would have been interesting to know the thoughts that blew through here head as she faced her anti-American interlocutors. With her departure came the kerfuffle over the NRO and the government surrender which had nothing to do with morality, constitutionality, legality or the scorn that has been poured upon it and its beneficiaries since General Pervez Musharraf committed the gravest sin of his long rule and went along with the US to make legal that which had no relationship with law, equity or morality. That the government backed down was due to the factor of numbers. Whether the presidential surrender is complete or not is not quite clear, as it is possible he has some move up his sleeve. Much rides on the NRO as far as he and the bevy of brigands with which he has surrounded himself are concerned. The latest target, with the presumed death of the NRO is its prime beneficiary, the President of the Republic, Asif Ali Zardari. He has succeeded brilliantly in doing away with the PPP of both his father-in-law and wife, gone with the bitter winds that have blown for so long, and creating the PPP-Z, with its headquarters in the plush presidency in which he is bunkered. A head of state should command respect though not necessarily be liked - Zardari has managed with his performance over the past 11 years to dispel any vestige of respect from any source and if what we hear and read is accurate he is not even liked. He has been somewhat of a disaster right from the moment of his swearing-in with Hamid Karzai sitting beside him, a man in the same boat as Zardari as far as respect or trust is concerned. Twice, once from the presidency and once in Parliament, Zardari told the nation that he intends to be unique as a president and relinquish powers bequeathed to him. This has not happened and signs are that it will not happen. For the 17th Amendment is to Zardari what his army uniform was to Musharraf. Once the latter had taken off his uniform he was to all intents and purposes a dead duck. The same applies to Zardari - remove the amendment and what is left? And we have, equally shorn of respect or liking, his various dubious lieutenants who are making merry with the nation, its assets and its laws. They are too numerous to name. Rehman Malik, not one of whose words can be believed. He is in the same league as military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas, likened in the American press to 'Baghdad Bob, described as a prevaricator without a peer. With the daily number of Taliban killed one wonders if there is land enough to provide graveyards for the bodies. Our wooden prime minister soldiers on, widely regarded as Zardaris pawn, rendered helpless by the kings dominance. He presides over a Cabinet which is a joke and a national shame, both in number and in content, and for sure he will not be able to recall the names of all those appointed. Altaf Bhai of London Town calls his own shots and for once, with the NRO, has done right. Asfandyar Wali, pride of the ANP, wisely stays safely away from Peshawar and his province. And sad to witness is the performances of Farhatullah Babar and Fauzia Wahab, once honest and upright members of the erstwhile PPP who now but mouth excuses for and praise of the false partys co-chairman. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: