ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - On paper, Yousuf Raza Gilani is one of the most powerful prime ministers in Pakistans history thanks to constitutional reforms in April that effectively turned the president into a ceremonial head of state. However, President Asif Ali Zardari still calls the shots, observers and analysts say, and Gilanis weak administration could complicate efforts to combat militants in a country whose help is crucial for US efforts to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan. The task of fighting militancy is devolving entirely to the military, said Talat Massood, a retired army general turned analyst. The other things which are to be done by the civilians are not happening or happening at a very slow pace and that is very worrisome. A civilian prime minister and by extension his government unable or unwilling to govern may provide space to militants to reassert themselves, he added. Thus, the balance of power in Pakistans political-military establishment is critical to that effort. The United States and NATO fear instability or political infighting in Pakistan could make the war in Afghanistan even more troublesome than it already is, given Pakistans links to Afghanistan, its own militancy problem and its history of military coups. Given that Zardari is the president and his powers have been transferred, Gilanis success is important to Western efforts in the region, a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity. But a weak prime minister coupled with an unpopular president is not in the Wests interests, the diplomat said. Gilani does not give the impression that he is ready to carry the new burden of running the country effectively, efficiently or even on his own steam, Syed Talat Hussain wrote in the May issue of Newsline, a leading monthly magazine. Others say it is simply Gilanis low-key style. The amount of work has been increased after the passage of the 18th Amendment. There is now more official work, more meetings. But the new powers have not gone to his head. His attitude remains the same, no difference, said a senior official in Gilanis office. The soft-spoken Gilani is a long-time political ally of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Though Zardari lost his major powers after passage of the constitutional reforms, he can still influence the government by using his powerful position of the head of the ruling party. In May, for instance, Gilani appointed a Zardari aide who was accused of forging a fake university degree to qualify him to contest elections as a prime ministerial adviser, allegedly on Zardaris insistence. Gilani was criticised by the media and the opposition party. He later told parliament he was following his partys directions. It is this dynamic that leads critics to say Gilani answers to Zardari. Analysts say Gilani, despite his bolstered position after assuming more powers, is unlikely to risk his political career by defying his party head. Gilani has weathered a series of political crises, almost all centering on the unpopular Zardari and has managed this by following a cautious policy toward all centres of power. Unlike Zardari, Gilani has maintained good relations with Zardaris main rival and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He is also believed to enjoy the support of the powerful military-led establishment. Hes a low-profile, docile kind of a person who is willing to talk and of course he accepts compromises, but in certain cases, there are conflicting pressures and one cannot accommodate all pressures, political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said. But the real issue may be that the civilian government is just not in charge of much of the policy the Americans and NATO care about: security and the fight against the Taliban. Even though Gilani has had the powers transferred by the 18th Amendment, he has no control over the main (security) portfolios, said Christine Fair, an assistant professor at Georgetown University in Washington. National and internal security is still under the control of the army. This matters because the United States has set democracy development in Pakistan as a strategic goal. It sees effective civilian government as a bulwark against militancy and a disincentive for the Army to step in, as it has done three times, and scuttle the little progress achieved in talks with India. We still continue to go to Kayani for a whole range of things, when we should be going to the civilian leadership, Fair said. And the reasons the Americans do this is because Gilani and Zardari ... have no such roles in those portfolios.