This unfortunate country, with the quality of leadership (also quantity under this present regime) has lurched from crisis to crisis, with the crises building up as the latest arrives before the previous lot has been dealt with. This government's methodology in attempting to sort out the present bunch of crises has been far divorced from the much vaunted 'national interest'. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was interviewed by Newsweek (February 16 issue) and when asked: "Aren't you concerned about the lack of government control in certain areas of Pakistan, like Swat?" swiftly retorted: "Certainly not." So now yet another 'deal' has beset us, this time under the guidance of President Asif Ali Zardari sheltering behind the government of the NWFP (what happened to Pakhtunkhwa?), perhaps the most shameful and damaging of all the 'deals' struck by our leaderships down the years. With its collective 84 pairs of hands firmly in the air, the government has now full abdicated its duty towards not only the people of Swat but of the entire country which it has endangered by wheeling and dealing with a man of the calibre of Maulana Sufi Mohammed and admitting that it and the army have no answer to the advance of the Taliban. Within two days of its celebrations at striking a 'peace deal' a journalist was gunned down and murdered in Swat, ironically whilst covering a 'peace march' led by a man, the TNSM chieftan, who has proudly proclaimed that he hates democracy and all its trappings including elections, and who wishes to impose his brand of Sharia not only in Pakistan but worldwide. Other happenings that same day: "Sunni leader gunned down in Quetta," "Safma head Imtiaz Alam attacked," "Girls' schools blown up, eight killed in Bajaur," and "Wana Press Club building blown up." The army, which managed to take out the rebellious Akbar Shahbaz Khan Bugti and his troublesome tribesmen three years ago, failed to tackle a few thousand well-armed insurgents waging guerrilla warfare. It is unequipped all round for any warfare other than with the traditional enemy. The politicians are unconcerned by the potential Taliban takeover. Most of them have no stake in this country - they all have their bolt holes abroad, highly comfortable and far more desirable than what exists in Pakistan. All they will miss is the transient power that attracts them to politics and the perks that go with it. Their helplessness is endemic, they cannot solve, they can only capitulate. Swat is yet another illustration of the president's promise of a democratic revenge. Of all the concern expressed by the foreign and national media, close to the bone is an excerpt from The San Francisco Chronicle of February 18: "The Pakistani government isn't being honest with the international community, and its latest move shows that it's not even being honest with itself. On Monday, it agreed to a 'truce' with the Taliban that would essentially concede the Swat Valley to the militants, allowing them to install Islamic law and continue terrorising the people who live there. Government officials have characterised the deal as consistent with the 'public will' of those who live in the Swat Valley. That's mendacious. In last year's legislative elections, the people of Swat voted overwhelmingly for a secular party. The Taliban has been flogging them and burning their schools. Up to a third of the valley's residents have already fled. If the Pakistani government were honest, it would admit that it is pulling out because 12,000 government troops have been unable to crush about 3,000 Taliban fighters for more than a year, and the government - hobbled by failures and troubles elsewhere - is ready to cut its losses." Government mendacity has also extended to the matter of the American drones being flown out of Pakistani bases to bombard the Afghan frontier areas and FATA, to help fight what Zardari, to his credit, has admitted is "our war." A lead story in the The Times (London) on February 17, under the title Secrecy and denial as Pakistan lets CIA use airbase to strike militants claims that the publication has 'discovered' that an airfield at Shamsi, some 190 miles southwest of Quetta is the drone base. Reportedly: "Major General Athar Abbas, the chief military spokesman confirmed that US forces were using Shamsi." Three other air bases also used by the US are mentioned - Jacobabad, Dalbadin and Pasni. This is confirmed by Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting, Inc., the private intelligence agency once referred to as 'the shadow CIA') on one of its maps that can be found at Footnote: The InfoMin is also at it again. Would the minister kindly prevail upon her minions and explain that planting stuff written by the ministry-paid 'article writers' lauding the wisdom and brilliant achievements of this government and its president is just not on under the present fraught circumstances. "Democracy getting stronger" as planted in the national press last week is merely a joke when democracy a la Zardari is wreaking its revenge upon a paralytic nation. The writer is a freelance columnist Email: