Dysfunctional, that treasured piece of 20th century socio-speak, is the word widely used, in writing and verbally, to describe this present government, presided over by the PPP-Z, hostage of our questionable head of state. It is incapable of functioning other than in improper manner. And our head of government, one of the many hostages held by the head of state, was spot on when he called the system of non-governance over which he is designated to preside but does not, a hotchpotch, neither fish nor fowl, neither presidential nor parliamentary. But then it has been a hotchpotch for long, since four hours after the constitution was promulgated in 1973, when its maker declared the continuance of the state of emergency proclaimed in November 1971. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto suspended the guaranteed fundamental rights to that he could 'fix' his political opponents - which he did. Its subsequent seventeen amendments have ensured that this constitution is non-interpretable and further amendments are likely to cause further confusion. As the head of state does not agree with the head of government, it seems that the present hotchpotch will continue on merrily. That a committee has been formed to try to sort out the distribution of one-sided powers is a dead give-away that there will be no sorting out, for that would not be in the interests of the head of state who maintains the system wielded by Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf had his dual role of army chief and then head of state; Asif Ali Zardari is chief of his political party and then head of state. The grandiose Aiwan-e-Sadar is the party headquarters. Zardari is going nowhere in a hurry. He valiantly does what he has given his word to do, and Washington can have no grumbles about his deliverance. Nothing is clear to us, other than the awards and rewards given to the head of state and government, and the 90-odd Cabinet members, by themselves via the latest budget. The various allocations are a slap in the face of the people - but who cares? The progress and outcome of the wars being waged in the Frontier regions at the behest of those in Washington who keep this nation in its dysfunctional state are foggy, as we can only depend upon the words of the few military spokesmen who tell us what they want to tell us. We know far less about the Taliban in Pakistan than we do about the Taliban in Afghanistan. A most interesting report in The Times (London) of July 7 on how the British are faring in their battles with the extremists evoked comment from Frank Spinney, an American military analyst. According to him, the report indicates: "The Taliban's strategic target is the mind of their adversary. Its operational schwerpunkt (i.e., main military effort to which all other efforts are subordinated) is also directly aimed at the mind of their adversaries," whether they be in London, Washington, Kabul or Islamabad. He added: "It is also pretty clear, that the Taliban's operational schwerpunckt is to use an omnipresent physical menace (manifesting itself through a welter of large and small attacks, and when faced with opposition, running away to fight another day, as well as mine warfare, terror, etc.) is to undermine mental and moral stability of their adversaries. This focus on the mind is a way of war that is entirely consistent with the thinking expressed in the first book ever written on the art war by the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu, as well as their modern incarnation in the guerrilla theories of Mao Zedong." How do we link all this with words spoken by Major General Athar Abbas, our Army's chief spokesman, to CNN on July 11: "...this has made the situation more complex. That the allies of the past have turned into enemies....And that's what makes it difficult to understand others' position. That can only happen when you have an intense, uh, negotiations and engagement only then you can understand the real difficulties of operating against those people who were the allies in the past, and in the area which were the sort of a training centres of the past....So therefore the contacts are there. The communication remains. But it doesn't mean that you endorse what they are doing in Afghanistan....Now we are very clear about this when we are operating in Swat, the military will provide them a temporary stability in the area. It would help also the civilian agencies, including administration and police, but then - unless and until the major stakeholders, the people themselves, they have to take control of the area along with the police and the administration. Only then a lasting peace will return. Otherwise, it would keep on creating fighting in this area. The peace would not return on a permanent basis....There are reconcilable elements in these whole, in this whole Taliban groups etc and one has to identify those and they are reconcilable and when there is no harm in negotiating....opening a negotiation with them." And finally a direct quote from the interview given by our president to Britain's Daily Telegraph which was printed on July 6: "At one point, he said that the PPP - of which his son Bilawal is chairman, and he is the co-chairman - had resisted the influence of 'extremists from Aung San Suu Kyi to the Taliban', apparently mistakenly referring to the jailed Burmese opposition leader." The writer is a freelance columnist