The whole country is agog with speculation concerning just about everything bordering on the happening, or not happening, or about to happen syndromes. Mostly, these conjectures paint doomsday scenarios about our consistent and unstoppable slide into the realm of anarchy in the foreseeable future. The seeds of these wild, mostly provocative analyses can be traced to the utter legal, moral and constitutional bankruptcy of policies that are being followed by the ruling concoction. Having publicly reneged on spoken and written commitments made amidst the bright glare of the clicking cameras, Mr Zardari has succeeded, beyond expectations, in building a hallow of untrustworthiness around his persona. Some make a vain effort to defend him by calling it his political 'wisdom' while others refer to it as his 'shrewdness', for ever pontificating that this is what politics is all about. Not quite so as, first and foremost, it remains an ideal instrument to sow seeds of mistrust and disaffection among a large section of the national leadership and populace who cannot disassociate the newly-elected president from a history that is anything but transparent. They read this predominant untrustworthiness as a natural sequel to the shenanigans of a past that is deeply mired in controversy. Having led to the collapse of the ruling coalition, Mr Zardari's histrionic efforts to adopt the War On Terror as Pakistan's very own are causing further ripples among a vast majority of the people who perceive this as a war that we are doing every thing to thrust upon ourselves. It is neither our war, nor is there a need to make it ours. Instead of becoming a target of extremism resulting in the death and injury to scores on a daily basis, we must revisit the option of negotiations to find a viable and lasting solution to the scourge of violence. Agreed, there may be areas where the writ of the state, or whatever remains of it, would not be compromised, but there is also no justification for making the country a pitiable hostage to the evil machinations of the US in its effort to dominate the world through a naked and brutal use of firepower. Part of the wild speculation insinuates at further ground having been conceded to the Americans in their bid to cleanse the FATA region of pockets of militants, both local and foreign. It is also rumoured that the joint session of the Parliament had been called to give the legislators an inkling of what may soon hit them in the shape of a 'operation' to be conducted by the Pakistani and the US armies in the areas bordering Afghanistan in a desperate surge to hand something to the Republications to retain the presidency. In fact, the Pakistani ruling elite already seems convinced of McCain's victory as the visiting president maintained a safe distance from the Democratic leadership during his disastrous trip to the United States that the country may live to rue in the near future. The US desperation can be understood. The neo-cons have till the 4th of November to achieve something spectacular to turn the tables on the lead Barack Obama seems to be consolidating with the passage of time. What more enticing rewards could it hope for than to see either Osama bin Laden, or Mullah Omar, or both secured in a cage There seems to be a growing consensus among the US policy makers that the two are ensconced in the Pakistani FATA region and the proposed operation there would help them recover their most coveted scalps. That may or may not happen, but the gruesome consequences of such an operation are not hard to imagine. Besides causing untold death and destruction to the people of the region, it would plunge Pakistan into the heartland of militancy and terrorism that it may never be able to extricate itself from. The demons of violence have already assumed frightening proportions. The proposed operation is likely to further incense the deep anti-American sentiments aggravating the situation beyond the frontiers of manageability. Obviously, there is no good in it for Pakistan. As a matter of fact, there is no good in it for the US also. But the issue is that, intoxicated with their brutal firepower, and in their bid to stamp their immoral and illegal authority on the rest of the world, the American leadership is hell-bent on flexing the full range of its muscle power to drive fear into the hearts of those it perceives to be against its hegemonic intentions. Learning from history, even recent history, does not make a likeable dish for the religious zealots who have come to rule the US. That makes for an ideal recipe for disaster for the region in particular, and the world in general.  The ongoing joint session of the Parliament is causing unexpected problems for the shaky ruling coalition. Already, there has been widespread criticism on the manner as well as the nature of presentation to the legislators. It is speculated that it lacked in content and strategy to tackle the tentacles of militancy, which are digging deeper throughout the country. Instead, an effort was made to convince the joint session to own the War On Terror as Pakistan's war and extend support to the government's efforts to join forces with the US in fighting it. Having sensed extensive reluctance on the part of the legislators to toe the line, the government was forced to extend the question-answer session to Monday, may be beyond. That gives the national policy makers (is there such a breed in existence any longer?) a few more days to revisit their objectives for having convened the joint session in the first place. The emerging picture of a legislature that would not be used as a rubber stamp to authenticate an immoral and illegal war that we are fighting on behalf of others is an encouraging sign on the road to the empowerment of national institutions, most notably the Parliament, so that they start delivering on matters relating to policy formulation. The cycle of violence is gaining in momentum. A few days ago, I was with some friends and the discussion inevitably turned to the lurking uncertainty in the minds of people. They are afraid. They are afraid of even going through their daily routines. Dropping their kids at school has become a major issue in the midst of surging violence specifically targeted at the female educational institutions. A dark and nauseating foreboding is getting a grip of life. A deep-rooted premonition is gaining ground that a massive disaster is about to strike the country. The disaster may already have struck. It is only that the natural consequences of following the script, courtesy the NRO, are unfurling for us to behold. We stand as helpless witnesses watching a systematic criminal assault unleashed on our residual national assets, plundering Pakistan to the threshold of oblivion. The writer is a media and political consultant based in Islamabad. E-mail: raoofhasan@hotmail.com