After much dithering, and the US incursions in FATA, the federally administered tribal area, the government decided to call a joint session of the National Assembly and the Senate. It was to be an in-camera session, hidden to all but the MNAs and senators, the technicians who run the facilities, the electricians, the sound engineers, the peons and the runners and such other members of the essential staff. Everybody else was kept out. The media was kept out too. The treasury benches clearly on the back foot since the president's recent rather awkward visit to the US, they did not miss TV cameras or the press reporters. The generals on the side of the government, or vice versa, they felt this would be a tame affair with a general briefing for the House on what was going on in the war in FATA and Swat, the former princely state merged in 1968 and since then a settled district of the NWFP. It is a part of the Malakand Division with the districts of Dir and Chitral. In all these areas, the government claims to be re-establishing its writ. The writ of the state, such as it is, continues to be challenged in the rest of Pakistan by the terrorists who have left the Tamil Tigers behind in the use of the explosive suicide belt that the Tamils had invented many years ago. We have had several high profile suicide attacks recently. Starting with the blast on the Marriott Hotel that killed about 70 people in September. Then the attack on Asfandyar Wali, the head of ruling ANP, survived by the skin of his teeth recently. Soon afterwards, the CM House in NWFP was rocketed. Last week we have had a serious suicide blast at the house of a sitting MNA in Bakhar in Punjab, killing 26 persons, followed by two blasts in a thickly populated part of Lahore, Gari Shahu. On Thursday - the 9th  - there was a daring suicide blast in the HQ of Islamabad Police. A man driving a vehicle with a green number plate managed to create an elaborate ruse and pass through all security barriers, rammed finally into the anti-terrorist squad barrack, demolishing the building. Luckily, because of extensive deployment in the so-called red zone to protect the secret session of the Parliament, the casualties were few. It needs to be noted though that of all the forces deployed on security duty, including the army and the police, the figure of casualties is the highest running into a couple of thousand, according to one estimate. Our army trained to save themselves is understandably the lowest in the list although they are fully engaged with the tribesmen in FATA and armed insurgents in Balochistan. So, it is the police who are really in the "line of fire" and not the author of the dubious work by that name who is happily entertaining his former colleagues. As the week passes, the camera session of the Parliament is becoming a saga. But all hints coming out of the session suggest that not much has been revealed. According to one MNA, nothing has been added to their information that they already had from the media. Another MNA called the exercise a "waste of time." The in-camera briefing of the Parliament on October 14 is into its fifth day (October 17). There are demands for a question answer session, some questions having already been asked. However, there is some confusion about whether officials from the GHQ should be questioned or should the defence minister be placed on the mat. But the direction of this session seems to be unclear. In the meanwhile, the president, the interior adviser and the foreign minister have taken off to China on an official visit. So much for the criticality of the secret session For the non-participants, the people at large who continue to suffer the vicissitudes of life in this country - the rising lawlessness, violence, civil war in FATA, insurgency in Balochistan, and crimes of violence - there is no respite. Besides, power outage hitting hard, there is serious food shortage to cope with. The alarming news today is that the province of NWFP is left with five days' stock of food grain People are seriously worried about this country as the US drones fly and bomb freely over Waziristan and Bajaur, causing casualties. But no one pins any hope on this so-called in-camera session. "There is no film in the camera," said a senator privately Ironically, public representatives are petrified of the public. They meet in a security cocoon, vehicle search causing traffic jams, delays, helicopters hovering overhead. The session - people say - is much ado about nothing. The apprehension is that the Parliament, ruling party in majority and towing the Musharraf line, will end up passing a resolution generally supporting the policies of the government especially in FATA. So, basically, it is going to be more of the same for some time. The writer is a former ambassador at large