Regardless of a massive Electoral College vote for the PPP co-chairman's presidency, I, for one among millions of Pakistanis, am extremely apprehensive of the incumbent president and the overall oligarchic structure of the entire Peoples Party political management team now at the helm of national affairs in Islamabad. Being a social scientist and a political analyst, my pessimistic reaction to PPP leadership is purely analytical. On top of that, there is a metaphysical element in my analysis: indeed, we cannot attribute the entire sequence of events, right from Benazir's assassination to Asif Zardari's presidential ascendancy, to celestial intervention on behalf of the PPP. God's wisdom does not work that way. As a nation, we need to understand how and why it happened the way it did. We need to know which specific people orchestrated events and who managed this entire bizarre episode of monumental consequence. Coming back to understanding the PPP leadership's "Realpolitik", let us look at some of its fundamentals. (1) We are all well aware that the February 18th national mandate was not for the presidency of PPP's co-chairman. (2) A recent nation-wide poll clearly indicates that only 14 percent of Pakistanis support Zardari's presidency. (3) It is true that a democratic legal framework was followed in the process of electing the president. And yet, this very process was flawed in the ultimate spirit of democratic conventions: the behind-the-scenes politics of party alliances, the misuse of political power and its manipulative essence were glaringly evident in the recently conducted presidential elections. (4) One can blindly compliment the skilful political craftsmanship of the PPP leadership to have its co-chairman elevated to the presidency - but on the other hand, this very skilful so-called political competency is actually indicative of a traditional cancerous rudiment in the body politics of this country. This ugly process of political manipulation is a disease that needs to be eradicated and the nation emancipated from its perpetual effects. However, the fact is that the PPP leadership has strongly reinforced the manipulative and relentless practice of a political tradition which has been an interminable feature in Pakistani politics, both in the military dictatorship and civilian administrations of this country. Consequently, the incumbent PPP oligarchic political leadership is guilty of inflicting Pakistan with a political culture of ethical failure. But, above and beyond these fundamental errors of political incorrectness, the PPP political management has failed the underlying leadership test required in the conduct of foreign policy and economic planning at this precise moment in the history of Pakistan. At the top of the list in the failure of foreign policy-making and philosophical understanding is the fact that the entire PPP top leadership has yet to recognise the disastrous American-led, Western-backed, Late Neo-colonialism (it would be more appropriate to say that they intentionally do not want to understand it because of the NRO implications). "The War On Terror and 'promoting democracy' are the 21st century equivalents of the 19th century British gobbledegook. American Late Neo-colonialism purveys them as moral justification and uses as political cover for intervening...invading... strategic countries...install puppet regimes...and of course, the US is by the far the most powerful terrorist force," opinioned a scholar in a highly acclaimed paper recently. He further stated that "By early 2006 it was clear Washington was looking for nothing less than a pliable leader in Islamabad, a firm political foothold in Pakistan and a Pakistani foreign policy that complemented US strategic aims in Central Asia." It is in this context that recent American commando incursions in Pakistan, last month's blast in Islamabad and Asif Zardari's meeting with George W Bush must be analysed and reviewed. Another important factor that I have noticed missing in the six months of PPP's political control is a sense of priorities. In politicising the entire spectrum of events for orchestrating an oligarchic structure of political management in the county, the PPP has failed to come up with any innovative economic policies to salvage the country's abrupt decline into an economic abyss. "Innovation is the only mechanism that can actually change things in substantive ways. Innovation is where creative thinking and practical know-how meet to do new things in new ways, and old things in new ways," wrote an eminent columnist recently. Innovative economic planning in Pakistan would require a complete divergence from the American-Western capitalist model and a full conversion to a state supported investment in people, in self-reliance, in a productive physical and virtual infrastructure, in a culture that embraces indigenous solutions to our expanding economic problematics and in a broadly-based indigenously trained and educated workforce. Pakistan will have to expand the role of universities and scholars as a source of problem-solving and in giving innovative indigenous research solutions. A lot of work needs to be done; however, the PPP leadership is continuing to follow Musharraf-era economic policies and is still mercilessly mesmerised by the process of privatisation, the sale of national assets, handouts by the World Bank and IMF and especially by American dollars in financial aid. This approach has failed in the past and it will fail again. On top of that, the PPP leadership has turned political management away from substance towards pure theatrics and showmanship. There has been unlimited meaningless rhetorical ammunition thrown at the nation, and national policy formation is being conducted largely by non-elected pundits of the Peoples Party. Promises and penned agreements have been set aside, principled politics has taken a back seat, and the public mandate hardly seems respected (for example, judges restoration, coalition conventions, anti-War-On-Terror public sentiment, etc.) Writing on the moral dimensions of presidential and public representative elections, a foreign freelancer has written the following: We should aspire to elect representatives who are well versed in economics, philosophy, technology, morality, and history. We should regard political office as a place for learned individuals who have insight that escapes the common man. Selecting the right candidate is a heavy burden. It should be among the most careful and informed decisions that we make. If we support the candidacy of a politician simply because we like the person they are or are married to, it shows that we have little respect for the position itself. The Pakistani people are on my mind - I wonder if they have once again been betrayed in their mandate. Have they? That is the vital question As of now, it seems that the PPP leadership is guilty of several political and ethical failures Indeed, you are entitled to your own view - but keep the Pakistani people first and foremost in your mind The writer is a professor, political analyst and conflict-resolution specialist. E-mail: hl_mehdi@hotmail.com