The speed at which the US is being allowed to spread its tentacles in Pakistan is simply alarming. There has been a spate of rumours regarding the unquestioned expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad with the prospect of stationing a fair number of marines in the federal capital so much so that China is reported to have raised objections to the prospect. Though denied by the foreign minister of Pakistan at one level, there have also been reports that the Chinese fears would be addressed in this regard. It is like Pakistan is being systematically converted into becoming an extension of Pentagon There are good reasons for the ruling conglomerate to be doing so. In the first instance, the PPP leadership owes it to the US to be residing in the corridors of power today. Raising the catchy and marketable slogan of "reconciliation", the PPP leadership cleverly manipulated the cards it had to have the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) promulgated by a sitting dictator, thus granting it immunity from all cases that were registered against it irrespective of their gross seriousness. But, this right to rule Pakistan could not have come without its pound of flesh. What we are witnessing today in terms of a gradual ceding of the writ of the state to outside players, most notably the US, is an unsophisticated manifestation of this compromise. The problem is that, once set into motion, this slide to subservience is difficult to contain either by way of its nature or its attending consequences which could be extremely damaging for Pakistan's inherent national interests. The reported statement of Mr Zardari that Pakistan would further expand the theatre of war in the restive tribal areas if it were given more funds is reflective of a servile mindset that is tuned to furthering the interests of its masters irrespective of the damage it may accrue to Pakistan's sovereignty considerations. Earlier, reports had come through that the drones that were attacking various targets in the tribal areas, and about which there has been intense and widespread criticism from all political and defence quarters, were actually taking off from some outpost within Pakistan's territory that had been leased out to the US as part of its deal with regard to being a partner in the War on Terror. While the government of Pakistan was quick to rebut this allegation, there was little conviction in either its content or the manner of its presentation for one to believe it. Recent reports regarding the presence of the personnel of the infamous US security firm Blackwater in Pakistan also raised many pertinent questions that have remained unanswered. The public misbehaviour of some US operatives with ordinary citizens and police functionaries has been widely reported in the media which has elicited little response by way of explanation from the concerned authorities. In fact, efforts have been made to fog the incidents to avoid adverse media comment. The reported role that the US played in an effort to cover up the criminal hand behind the crash of the plane carrying General Zia and the top brass of the Pakistan army together with two senior US officials, though a known fact to many in the country for long, has again raised many eyebrows. These are extremely unsettling and nauseating manifestations of a continually deteriorating syndrome in the country where the government seems gradually taking its hands off the security apparatus which, more than ever before, appears to be regulated by forces that may be inimical to the interests of Pakistan. In other words, the country is no longer being 'governed' in conformity with the principal objective of maintaining and safeguarding its security and sovereignty in accordance with the precepts as enshrined in our constitution and the United Nations Charter that governs inter-state relations. The manner in which the ruling conglomerate has tried to handle the prospect of the former military dictator being taken to a court of law in the wake of the proclamation of November 3 being declared unconstitutional demonstrates its absolute subservience to the self-serving cause of its own survival in the corridors of power. The crude way in which a former official of an intelligence agency was brought down on the electronic channels to dig up old graves with the abject intention of puking mud on the political leadership of the country and taking the attention away from the demand of holding General (retd) Musharraf accountable for his crime is only a small manifestation of the contours of the 'deal' that facilitated the advent to power of the incumbent grasp at the centre. Obviously, protecting the former dictator is an integral element of the understanding with the powers that brokered the NRO and its attending benefits principally for the PPP and the MQM. In the event these policies continue to be pursued with the same unfailing vigour as has been demonstrated so far, it would only bring further damage to Pakistan and its national, regional and international interests. But, is a shift in these policies even remotely possible under the conditions that have been intentionally created mainly by dragging Pakistan in the midst of the so-called War on Terror with the prime focus on the ruling party staying in power to continue serving the US agenda? The only recourse that comes to mind is by way of the judiciary and the injunctions that are expected of it in the near future particularly with regard to the moral, legal and constitutional relevance of the NRO. In case of a negative decision with retrospective applicability that would lead to the revival of all cases that were earlier thrown out, there would be enormous moral and legal pressure that would build on the top PPP leadership, most notably its co-chairman, to quit. That brings us to the minus-one formula that has been resonating through the corridors of power and the media echelons in the recent past: the system should continue, if need be without one person who sits atop the hill. It is in this twin context that one should view the recent onslaught against the opposition leadership: to divert attention from the prospect of a treason case being registered against the former dictator and to present a 'clean' image of the PPP and the MQM as not having received any financial alms from one or the other pillar of the establishment. In the meanwhile, the principal policies of the incumbent grasp, particularly with regard to the "Pentagonisation" of Pakistan, would proceed unhindered and uninterrupted. Therein may be hidden a clear and candid danger: is it the survival of a servile leadership that we should safeguard, or is it our national interest that we should be more worried about? The writer is an independent political analyst based in Islamabad. E-mail: raoofhasan@hotmail.com