One thing has become abundantly clear over the past week - not that it has not been clear to us for the past eight years - that now, under this new democratic transition, it can safely be said, as it is universally accepted, that Pakistan does not operate under a parliamentary system. It is presidential, and highly so in its own unique way. The international media has accepted the fact that the newly sworn in president of this country is the country's Supreme Being, its leader in name and indeed. All that has happened is that we have swapped one one-man rule for another one-man rule - a clean cut, painless, and simple transition. Our president, Asif Zardari, may declare and re-declare that he is, as he puts it, a 'sub-servant' of Parliament, but the mere statement will not wash. He is the controlling force, behind Parliament, party, prime and other ministers. And, why not? As far as democracy goes, a presidential is as good as a parliamentary system. Pakistan has never operated successfully under the parliamentary system, upon which for years on end it has hypocritically proclaimed itself to be modelled. So, for once and for always, let us get it over with, all signs being that Zardari has no intentions of giving up his party position, or of being in any way a 'sub-servant' of Parliament, or of having a functional prime minister. With the powers Zardari has, let's move over officially to the presidential system and give it a go. Had the erstwhile president, General Pervez Musharraf, heeded the advice he was given again and again, that he forego the rot of setting up a bogus political party, a bogus Parliament and a truly lamentable government and officially (rather than covertly) switch over to the presidential system, he may not have made quite such a mess of things. When one is neither here nor there, success or progress is hard to come by. The second thing to become abundantly clear since 9/9 is that, no matter how, for public consumption only, Pakistan's varied spokespersons at different levels may fulminate and fume about the USA, its incursions into Pakistan's territory, and bemoan the fact that the country is a vassal state, the US does indeed rule our national roost. It is a simple case of beggars not being choosers. If it were not the USA, it would be some other power lording it over this poor country that is totally dependent upon others for its existence, it being incapable of sustaining itself in any manner or way. Was not the entire scenario of the presidential swearing-in orchestrated by the USA? Yes, otherwise President Karzai of Afghanistan would not have been an honoured guest. Both he and Zardari were seemingly firmly told by the Americans that the days of the Karzai-Musharraf stand-off are over, that they will present a united face to the world and go all out to stress the brotherhood aspect of their relationship. The post swearing-in press conference ordained by the masters and mentors of the two countries and their leaders was truly a non-event. Neither president made any effort to seriously answer any questions put to them. Karzai gave long rambling reiterative answers that had little connection with the questions posed, whilst Zardari relied upon his subservience to Parliament, prime minister and even the foreign office to avoid giving any coherent response. There was one rather telling off-the-cuff remark by Zardari about his past making and unmaking of two presidents. All in all, it was a sham, staged by the US, for its own national interest. How far the protestations of brotherhood, amity and seeing eye-to-eye by the two newly-found 'brothers' have gone to convince anyone is unclear, as for sure the Taliban forces of the border areas were not listening and neither were the ISAF troops and their commanders. Both men have been installed by the Americans, with their blessings, and that being that they have little option but to toe the line. One thing our newly sworn-in president might do, for his and his country's sake, is to level with the public on matters which the international press and media will not let go. For the past ten days or so, the national media has shown a tendency in many areas towards of bit of sycophantic grovelling after its previous all out, no holds barred, attacks on Zardari and questions about the Swiss bank account and the court medical certificates. Self-censorship has even affected columns lifted from the international press - one publication printing a leader from The Times (London) eliminated the first three sentences. This sort of thing is self-defeating as the internet does exist. To put to rest the national collective mind, and to calm the international media, could Zardari not inform us as to the source of whatever money and assets he is alleged to have in his name at home and abroad so that it is made abundantly clear that none was obtained at any cost to the nation? The same goes for the medical certificates allegedly obtained to delay the many court cases in which he was involved. Clarification on that point too would help dismiss any allegations of perjury committed by whoever. Renowned as a businessman with an admirable ability to strike deals, his political athleticism over the past few months has also been worthy of note. However, his expedient alliance with a religious party, the cavalier attitude towards the Taliban terrorists and the judiciary, and the ignorance exhibited by him and all his ministers and advisors of economic realities are, to say the least, worrisome internally and externally. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: arfc@cyber.net.pk