In the first place, you shouldn't believe in promises. The world is full of them: promises of riches, of eternal salvation, of infinite love. Some people think that they can promise anything, others accept whatever seems to guarantee better days ahead, as, I suspect, is your case. Those who make promises they don't keep end up powerless and frustrated, and exactly the same fate awaits those who believe those promises.-Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym Anamorphosis is a painting technique that manipulates the laws of perspective to create two competing images on a single canvas. In simpler language, it means "what you see is not what you get." Another way of expressing the same concept is the old saying, "Fake it till you make it." For the bargain-hunters (such as the Pakistani major political actors) the name of the game is "two for the price of one" - aptly translated in a Punjabi metaphor ek ticket meh do do maze. The trouble with the current PPP leadership and the 100 day-old installed political establishment in Islamabad is that it is turning into a skillful maestro in the techniques and art of anamorphosis. Everything it says and does contradicts itself. Every promise it has made to the nation stands broken. Each policy direction it takes is contradictory to the election campaign pledges that it made with the nation. Every step it takes is going backwards rather than going forward. Each and every one of its actions is manipulative rather than a manifestation of conspicuous openness. Democracy to the PPP leadership has become the management of a controlled administrative doctrine - where authority flows from the top to the bottom and where the power ultimately rests on top. This is reflected in the PPP's policy-making and power-sharing structure. Consider, for example, the PPP's first 100-day balance sheet of its political conduct and its leaders' political behaviour: it is obviously clear, as the entire nation sees it, the PPP-led government has opted for political status-quo rather than choosing visionary politics to enact fundamental changes in the country. The PPP establishment has decided on an extension of Musharraf's policies rather than giving alternative political and economic directions to national planning - it has rejected the conceptual strategy of national self-reliance and has unequivocally opted to live by American aid, foreign donors help, and borrowing from international financial institutions, by and large controlled by the West. In return, the PPP government has declared that the so-called War On Terror is "Pakistan's own war" - all in violation of its political mandate and people's sentiments. Last week, the Pakistani foreign minister travelled especially to the US where, in a speech to a forum of the Washington-based Brookings Institution, Shah Mahmood Qureshi assured the American establishment of the PPP government's "expressed determination" to fight the so-called terrorism. Ironically, the PPP leadership, instead of making their own decisions on vital national political issues, has favoured Richard Boucher's guidance and judgements on them. On a recent visit to Pakistan, Boucher scolded the PPP leadership on its stated stand on Musharraf's political future in Pakistan and said," He Musharraf is president of Pakistan and the United States deals with him in that capacity." The Pakistani foreign minister, during his visit to the US last week, seemed to be apologetically asking for American permission to make a parliamentary move against Musharraf's continued unconstitutional presidency. What the foreign minister should have categorically told the Americans was that their interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan will not be tolerated. However, the PPP leadership is intimately hooked-up with US interests and the Pakistanis are well aware of its intentions to keep Musharraf in the presidential office as long as the Americans desire. The PPP leadership has chosen self-interests over national interests. On the issue of the restoration of the apex court judges, the People's Party leadership has gone back on its pledge in the Murree Declaration. It has decided on a strategy of political confrontation rather than national reconciliation on this matter - another link in a chain of US brooked agreements between the incumbent president and top PPP leadership, and commands given by the Bush Administration. In a blatant attempt to use the art of political anamorphosis, the acting food minister, Nazar Muhammad Gondal, has claimed that the shortage of food is a figment of the common people's imagination - meaning it is just in their heads and not reality. "We have no crisis, no shortage," proudly announced the minister last week, "We still have enough wheat. And will be importing more." Surprisingly, the food minister does not understand the anguish of the masses and has simply disregarded a recent report by the UN World Food Programme. It estimates: "Soaring food prices and shortages of staples means about 77 million people of Pakistan's 160 million population are food insecure, a 28 percent increase over the past year..." The question put to the PPP leadership is: What good are the wheat stocks if the common people and their families (at least half of the population) go hungry everyday? For God's sake, think about it: Pakistan is a major wheat producing country where a roti is selling at Rs. 8 a piece The point is that the PPP leadership may excel in the craft of political anamorphosis - but that will not serve as a solution to the national crisis in which we are caught up in right now. The art of manipulating the laws of political perspective and creating competing and compelling double images of a nation's democratic ascendancy, a deception in itself, might work for the PPP leadership for a while - but in the end, this strategy is bound to fail. What the PPP needs is a visionary and courageous leap forward - a rejection of the prevailing political status-quo, and ultimately the realisation that Pakistan can say "no" to America's insatiable appetite for illegitimate, unethical and morally bankrupt demands. That is where our national salvation is... The Americans love to laud freedom but their actions are freedom's antithesis. "He has wanted to be wise, but had been lacking in political skills. He had wanted to be just, but had lacked wisdom. He had wanted to be a politician, but had lacked courage." So goes the story of Pakistan's continued decline and political misfortunes... So is the unfolding tale of the PPP's leadership And so awaits the fate of those who break promises... The writer is a professor and political analyst E-mail: