WELL, it seems that the stories which still have captured the imagination are the old ones: the Army is still operating in Malakand Division, and President Asif Zardari is still abroad. I wonder who got the bright idea of bodycounts in Malakand. You know, the announcement that the military has killed another 54 terrorists, or some such number. We wont go into the terrorists bit. As we all know, the credibility of the Army has reached a peak after 1971, and stayed there, and anyone who doesnt fall down and pray whenever it makes an announcement, is a dyed-in-the-wool traitor, and a member of the PML(N) to boot. The idea of bodycounts came during the Vietnam War, and was discredited then. Despite the bodycounts, the Americans lost, though Vietnam is not to be mentioned in the same breath as Bangladesh. However, some bright spark thought it was a good way to win American hearts and minds, at least while the US Congress was considering the aid package for Pakistan. Winning Pakistani hearts and minds was not as important, because Pakistanis could be driven like sheep, and the Americans could find plenty of shepherds already putting up their hands to volunteer. However, the emphasis was on France, which promised Pakistan a nuclear deal like Indias with the USA. President Zardari must be very pleased with himself, for he had got no such deal from the USA, which he was returning from a visit of, despite brandishing his democratic credentials there. France has been able to play a bit of politics, anti-American at that, as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. However, Pakistan should remember that France, while a reliable supplier of (very pricey) conventional arms, is the supplier to Pakistan of the nuclear reprocessing plant. That particular deal was signed with the Presidents father-in-law, when he was PM, and was waved about like a flag by President Ziaul Haq as proof that his government was doing something on the nuclear programme. However, the reprocessing plant was dropped, as Pakistan opted for the uranium route in bomb-making. We should also remember that France doesnt want a policeman in the region, the USA does, and it has chosen both its candidate, and its opponent: India and China, respectively. So France can afford what the USA cant, well, not until French corporations develop interests in India. But the story behind the story, the real tale behind French President Nicholas Sarkozys readiness to let Pakistan get privileges that no one else was giving, was the ever-vigilant Interior Minister Rehman Malik, whose main contribution to the War on Terror was prominent position he took in the photo-op on the footsteps of the lyse Palace. After all, it is to be assumed that the Minister is fluent in French. Even if he is not, he is sure to have parties who are, despite their trousers and shoes, at the forefront of the movement to rap in French. So it must have been a new experience for the French President to conduct diplomacy in the demotic dialect of the streets of Paris. However, the proof, if any was needed, that the Americans still love us, came by their Congress voting for some billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan. That was yet more proof of the success of President Zardaris personal diplomacy, which has convinced the Obama Administration that the President may well be the only friend that the USA has in Pakistan. However, they must not forget him on whose shoulders the entire War on Terror rests, none other than the architect of the French deal (going by the photos), Rehman Malik. Closer home, the National Assembly was proving its worth by supporting the Army in the operation. Well, all they proved was that they were not foreign agents, because as everyone knows, especially the Army, the Taliban were supported by foreign agents. Why should foreign forces support those who want to destroy Pakistan, when Pakistan is so helpful to the USA? Maybe, instead of asking for anything, which I believe happened a lot in the USA, we should ask the Americans to stop these conspiracies against Pakistan and democracy. All right-thinking Pakistanis must be relieved that the COAS gave his in-camera briefing at PM House, not to Parliament. The preservation of the dignity of the COAS must come ahead of any other false notions, such as keeping the Great Unwashed informed. But what has been happening across the border is nobodys business, but is strangely appropriate. Congress has won the elections in India, or rather the alliance it leads. Indias reaching great-power status was a dream first seen by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and it will probably reach it with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty still in the saddle, on top of Nehrus Congress, and with that party still in office.