WITH an ongoing military operation and rampant terrorism across the country, the first priority for the government should have been to establish clarity of purpose and strategy. Unfortunately, that is still missing and this weakness stands exposed today as never before. A mere glance at the babble of statements coming forth from government personnel, shows the confusion and panic gripping those who should be allaying peoples fears and providing credible leadership. After the Islamic University (IIU) blast, the Interior Minister declared that it was a security lapse. However, by evening he had altered his mind and declared that there had been no security lapse at the IIU because it was out of the security zone. Was he implying that only certain elite areas, the security zone, was meant to get extra security, while the rest of the country remains a soft target for terrorists? The confusion was also apparent when the Foreign Office spokesperson declared that the Jundulluh leader was not in Pakistan and he did not know where he was, while the Interior Minister declared categorically that he was in Afghanistan. This disconnect goes to the top. The PM told the nation that Pakistan had voiced its concerns over the KL Act to Senator Kerry; but the Foreign Minister declared his unqualified praise for the Bill as enacted into law. Interestingly, he also declared the US responsible for terrorism in the region, which while truthful, has not been his governments policy line. With such confusion abounding, it is hardly surprising to find the public fearful and uncertain about what is happening to the country and their lives. Students especially are becoming traumatized with the regularity of their lives having been totally disrupted. The government seems unable to offer any sense of protection or even basic governance. It is not just the issue of terrorism, although that is the overarching environment impacting every citizens life. It is also the fact that in this environment of terror, citizens are facing growing problems of rising prices and scarcity of basic foods. The state is unable to deliver on any count - except in subservience to US diktat. Not only is the average Pakistani blighted by a daily threat of terrorism, he/she has to contend with ever rising indirect taxation whereby the state taxes the poor to pay for the rich. Once again we are also facing a large population being displaced as a result of military action. This time round there are no facilities for them as the UN is falling short on assistance because the international community has not delivered. This state of affairs is untenable and something will give in the system unless the government radically reforms itself, including cutting down its own expenditures drastically and providing relief in some quarters, at least, for its citizens.