This topsy-turvy nation, the Republic of Pakistan, has been bludgeoned by mediocrity in its leadership and governance since 1948 - far too long a time. In the large, it is now immune to the use of reason or logic when approaching any matter or issue relating to statecraft, or for that matter to anything that pertains to its existence. Mediocrity is putting it mildly, as the nation has for the larger part of its existence been subjected to a sub-standard leadership which on rare occasions, in brief spurts, has risen to the mediocre in or out of uniform. Invariably, decisions that must be taken on matters vital to the well-being of the nation have always been a thousand miles beyond the intellectual competence of those who have assumed power unto themselves or have been shot into power slots via an unreliable ballot box. Choices when it comes to our sporadic 'free and fair elections have been short on the ground, apart that is from 1970 when the characters offered were of the virgin parliamentarian variety, and sadly that experiment badly backfired with the loss a year later of half the country, the reasons for which are too well known to bear repetition. Since then, it has been downwards all the way, with the same old tried and failed candidates, ill-equipped by education but over-equipped with the ability to filch and rob, lacking worthwhile experience, moral integrity, or any natural talent that could get the country going in the right direction. This is amply illustrated right now, with the popularity of this present government at a dangerously low ebb. When members of the grumbling discontented awam are told that it is they who voted them in, so they better either like it or lump it, their response is that their choice was such that in reality there was no choice - they were but served up the same unappetizing stale dishes. Mediocre is too good a word for the larger lot. We have been adrift in stagnant lakes of tradition and obscurantism, with a civil or military leadership incited into questionable action by empty-headed sycophants posing as ministers or advisors. No self-proclaimed leader, civil or military, has so far been able to rise above his destructive coterie. Such has been the standards set that whenever a man, or a body of men, have actually performed the duties for which they are paid and which are expected of them, he and they have been heaped with praise for delivering. The latest incident of unnecessary effusive congratulations was provoked by the terrorist attack upon the mighty GHQ. The point is that the attack should never have taken place. The headquarters of the seventh largest army in the world should have been impregnable, even unapproachable by the terrorist faction against which a war has been waged for the past eight years. Should GHQ have succumbed as have various police or security installations? Is that what was expected of the army which has so efficiently performed in the Malakand-Swat areas, earning for itself not only national but international plaudits? No, the incident should not have taken place but having taken place it was expected that the army would deal with it in its known disciplined manner as befits its training. Having been somewhat embarrassed by a lack of response to intelligence reports, should it and its chief have been congratulated by president and prime minister for doing its job? The Tehrik-i-Taliban-i-Pakistan is un-cowed, as we have seen in the past 10 days with its heightened activity - much remains to be done and delivered by the security forces, the army included if the holy warriors are to be contained. Moreover, Kerry-Lugar has also not been contained. Fulminations against it continue unabated, while the sovereignty of Pakistan continues to be endangered. But can blame for the drafting of a piece of the American legislation be apportioned to Pakistans ambassador in the US? Is he seriously that powerful or influential that he can influence the Senate and Congress of his host country? If so, then he should be irreplaceable. His job is dictated by the government back home - he has to follow policies dictated emanating from the presidency, his ministry and Parliament. And as for bringing up views expressed in a book written by him, published in 2005 when the army was firmly entrenched with 'civil society and other democratic-minded liberals in full outcry against it - well, it seems rather far-fetched. The sole objection which has been 'reviewed is that of the army, which, quite in consonance with its predominant role, forcefully expressed its concern. The US has done its best at pacification on that score, as can be gauged from the statement issued last week which attempts to clarify points in the bill and will be entered into the Congressional record: There is no intent to, and nothing in this Act in any way suggests that there should be, any US role in micromanaging internal Pakistani affairs, including the promotion of Pakistani military officers or the internal operations of the Pakistani military. The reports envisioned in this Section are not binding on Pakistan, and require only the provision of information by the executive branch to the US Congress, in furtherance of the Acts stated purpose of strengthening civilian institutions and the democratically-elected Government of Pakistan (Extension of Remarks, Statement by Howard L Berman of California, Regarding S 1707, the Enhancing Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, October 14, 2009). Has honour been redeemed? The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: