Straight Talk I had started my travel log with a Frank Sinatra song, 'Come Fly With Me', so I had thought it would be appropriate to end this travel log with another Sinatra song, 'Its So Nice To Come Home'. But before I had left for the US, I had written about 'Confusion Galore' in our present system of governance. While the confusion is still there, another element that has been added are 'Controversies Galore'. As such, circumstances have forced me to write on the controversies that are raging and the questions that are being asked around the country and the world about what is happening in Pakistan.  'Will he or won't he - If so, when? Will they or won't they? Has he or hasn't he?, are the questions that are being asked in almost all newspapers and TV channels, with a 'breaking news' flash every five minutes, raising people's expectation that Mr. Musharraf has finally thrown in the towel and is prepared to march off the parade ground with some dignity. Some how, Pakistan always seems to end up in the eye of the storm. The American newspapers and TV talk shows claim that our nuclear scientist and national hero, Dr. Qadeer Khan, has stated that he is not guilty of the crimes that he has been accused of and that: 'North Korea received centrifuges from Pakistan in 2000, in a shipment supervised by the army under the government of President Musharraf'. In other words, the good doctor is directly pointing his finger at the former C&C of the Pakistan army and Uncle Sam's biggest ally against its 'War Against Terror' campaign. Another paper had stated that the marble industry in NWFP is funding the Taliban and helping them 'stay in business'. 'Today, the Taliban not only settle disputes in their consolidated domain, but they also levy taxes, smuggle drugs and other contrabands and impose their own brand of rough justice, completes with courts and prisons'. As I travelled around America, I asked both, Americans and Pakistani's who have made America their home, their views and comments on the above stories. And surprisingly, all seem convinced that shipments of highly sensitive nuclear centrifuges, which are packed in five foot boxes, can not be simply loaded onto a plane and smuggled out without the knowledge or help from the army, ISI, MI, etc. And if they did, then it does not speak highly of our security system. And as for the Taliban, it is no secret that the government has failed to establish its writ in NWFP and now the Taliban control the system of governance in these rugged areas. The American political leaders, including some of our own, also fear the spread of Talibanization in our major cities. They have already established their presence in Karachi by distributing leaflets in Shireen Jinnah Colony and at Mauripur truck stand, as well as by pasting leaflets at the entrance of the main mosque of the area. They have warned the transporters and drivers of brutal consequences if they persist with trucking supplies to the 'Christian army' in Afghanistan. One of the front page news in the NYT read, 'CIA Outlines Pakistan Links With Militants'. According to the report: 'A top CIA official traveled secretly to Islamabad this month to confront Pakistan's senior officials with new information about ties between the country's powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan'. This story was followed the next day by: 'Pakistanis Aided Attack In Kabul'. According to the report, CIA chief Michael V. Hayden had an exclusive meeting with PM Yousuf Gilani during his visit, presenting him with a "charge-sheet" on Pakistani intelligence agencies involvement in jihadi activities. "Some information in the CIA charge-sheet were so damning that the Pakistanis could not deny them". An email that I received while I was in the US was from Pakistan - American Leadership Center, wanting a clarification on: 'What specific steps is the government taking to address the issue of skyrocketing inflation? How is the government addressing the continuing power-shortage crisis? - Specifics on the government's strategy in dealing with extremism in the FATA area. - How will the government resolve the tension between U.S. pressures to act militarily against extremists? - How will the coalition government be effective in building a political consensus among its partners and move forward?' These are all important questions, to which all Pakistanis would also like an answer to. However, one important question that PAL seem to have ignored, is the burning issue of the restoration of the CJ and the judges, which seems to have brought 'governance' to a complete stop. Unfortunately, what we are witnessing in Pakistan is a deadly chess game for raw power and self-interest, under the garb of democracy and the rule of law. It seems that the government has become nonfunctional, with the threat of spreading Talibanization in our cities, the power break downs, rising inflation, a falling stock market and rupee and the country in the grip of political uncertainty. The Honorable CJ and his brother judges are still out of a job, while the lawyer's movement seems to have lost steam. But the shrill chants of 'Go Musharraf Go' seem to be gaining strength, with an almost certain impeachment, based on the same charges for which he had removed the previous government some eight years back and wondering as to what the hell went wrong? But despite all these negative factors, he is still hanging on to his shaky and battered saddle. And the beaming AZ, playing the role of the puppet master, seems to be in his elements, with a frowning, frustrated, confused and bewildered NS, chasing him round the 'Mulberry Bush', while the nation waits anxiously to see who will run out of patience and fall down. And as we celebrate yet another independence day and in spite of the six month old free and reasonably fair elections, we are still playing musical chairs and democracy and the rule of law are still a distant dream and divided, we still stand. As we waited for our baggage in the departure lounge, a political 'Big Wig' of PPP, and some 'pillars' of our business community and civil society, stood on one side, calmly smoking and discussing the lack of enforcement of the rule of law and the political turmoil in the country. When I pointed out to them that there were numerous 'No Smoking' signs around the airport and they were violating these laws and yet talking about the lack of their enforcement, the prompt reply from the 'Big Wig' was: "Yar, it has been a long flight" and calmly puffed on his cigarette and continued the discussion. As we drove home, I reflected upon the casual disrespect for the rule of law by the very people who are supposed to be its guardian and responsible for its enforcement and asked myself, Can we ever change? Despite the late hour, the Karachi traffic was as crazy, noisy and unpredictable as Venice Beach, but where the rule of law was still respected. What a difference a day can make. But it still felt good to be back. As the song goes, 'It's So Nice To Come Home'. H. Maker (email: trust@super.net.pk).