On January 5, Mr Zardari, in his capacity as the President of Pakistan, conferred on Richard Boucher the award of Hilal-e-Quaid-e-Azam. The accompanying citation read: "As Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Ambassador Boucher has been instrumental in promoting a stable, broad-based and long-term Pakistan-US relationship. Mr Boucher has been visiting Pakistan frequently for deepening bilateral cooperation in diverse areas as well as promoting shared objectives for regional peace, stability and prosperity." What the citation did not mention for obvious reasons, and what may actually have prompted the decision to give the coveted award to Mr Boucher, was his decisive role in the promulgation of the illegal, unconstitutional and extremely controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that paved the way for the top PPP leadership to make its way back to Pakistan and, ironically, for Mr Zardari to be occupying the seat of power that he currently does. The omission assumes and even more alarming dimension as, on the very day Mr Boucher received the award, he is reported to have said that the drone assaults (inside Pakistan's sovereign territory) had become a compulsion on account of the attacks on the US and allied forces in Afghanistan. He termed the action in Pakistani tribal areas as essential to counter these offensives. In other words, the intrusions would continue uninterrupted, Pakistan's waning 'protests' notwithstanding Mr Boucher's conduct in the recent history of Pakistan makes for a humiliating chapter in the annals of inter-state diplomacy which effectively degenerated to one state imposing its hegemonic will on another with no deference shown to its inherent national interests. It also reflects the total and obsequious surrender of our entire incumbent leadership to the dictates of another power as well as the devious mechanism employed by the leaders of a political party, in cahoots with the US and the former military dictator, to advance their own cause at the expense of national interest, honour and sovereignty. The fact that the very same political party is today ruling the country makes for a strange travesty of justice and propriety. What would have been advisable is to keep the personal and party interests separate and not use the national platform and awards for their ill-conceived advancement. Why it was not done, and why the two were intermingled at the expense of the state is pregnant with grave prospects for the future of the state. Mr Boucher's role in facilitating the way for a deal between the PPP and the former dictator has become Pakistan's nemeses today. It is the same notorious deal that has become an unyielding obstacle in the empowerment of the state institutions and the advent of the rule of law in the country. Consequently, the Parliament remains irrelevant and all powers are immorally vested in the person of the president. There is no credible movement towards the annulment of the 17th amendment or other undemocratic aberrations built into the constitution with the sole intention of prolonging the rule of a dictator and of those who have followed him by employing undesirable avenues and methods. As the drone attacks persist unchecked, the short sighted policies continue in the tribal areas and the rest of the country and governance remains pitiably absent from sight, Mr Boucher and the US as well as their side kick in Kabul are happy with "Zardari's Pakistan." One may ask: what of the people of Pakistan? Do they share the US and its Afghan oddity's perception? The belated decision of the PML-N leadership to introduce its bill for the annulment of the 17th amendment sans clauses relating to empowerment of women and the joint electorate would provide an appropriate opportunity for exposing the undemocratic credentials of the PPP and its leadership. Not that there remains any ambiguity about it as their conduct has conclusively demonstrated through their stint in power vide reneging on commitments to restore the judiciary and empowering the Parliament, yet the introduction of the bill in the Parliament would erase whatever remains of their pretensions to be a democratic party. Mr Zardari is palpably unwilling to forsake any of the powers that the former dictator had crudely and systematically accumulated in his person vide courtesies extended by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) of Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam (JUI) of Maulana Fazal ur Rehman. While the former is now trumpeting for the restoration of the constitution in its original form, the latter sits sanguinely alongside the PPP in ruling the roost and teaching others the 'art of staying in power'. This is the same 'art' that helped the former dictator escape the ignominy of having to deal with an incomplete electoral college when he was trying to secure another illegal term in office. There would be many opinions as to why the PML-N waited this long to introduce the constitutional amendment bill in the Parliament. Some would attribute it to an effort to save their government in Punjab while others may speculate with regard to an understanding with the PPP that prompted the delay. I believe that neither was the case. It was due to the PML-N Quaid's contention that he would not be involved in any effort to destabilise the government and would prefer that it completed its full constitutional tenure. With the virtual absence of governance at the centre, the writ having been ceded to the marauding Taliban in the NWFP, the establishment in Sindh having become a victim of the high-handed tactics of the PPP-MQM combine and while Balochistan continues to be bombarded into submission, Punjab remains the only province with a functional government inspiring some hope and confidence for the future. An effort to destabilise it would be a national catastrophe. The over-riding tendency to render the will of the state subservient to the dictate of the person in power is a penchant that is deep-rooted in the ruling psyche of the country. The incumbent aberration is fully charged with this malaise showing little or no intention of taking steps to undo the cancer. In the process, critical national interests are being routinely compromised as powers that share the brunt of facilitating the advent of the current clique continue imposing their belligerent will on Pakistan with not even a whimper disturbing the all-pervading calm in the ranks reporting to the hill. Viceroy Boucher would be one happy person The writer is an independent political analyst based in Islamabad E-mail: raoofhasan@hotmail.com