The jubilations planned to celebrate the formalising of an unlikely alliance between the PPP and the PML-Q at the President House, on May 2, were slightly eclipsed as another ally and major benefactor (USA) had successfully concluded, a few hours earlier, an unauthorised military operation close to our premier military academy in the garrison town of Abbottabad. The two political parties that were sworn enemies till the day before were not to be deterred by such trifles as the invasion of our air space by a contingent of the US Navy Seals commandos in their technologically advanced stealth Black Hawk helicopters and equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry. The mission had reached its target unnoticed by our radars or human intelligence, ambushed the most wanted terrorist of the century without facing any significant resistance and returned safely to the base with the corpse of its most prized trophy. Meanwhile, the swearing-in ceremony of the ministers went on as if nothing unusual had transpired. The rulers appeared unmoved by the scorn, humiliation and accusations of incompetence or collusion that were being hurled the world over against their country, their intelligence agencies and their army at the precise time they were sitting in imperial grandeur congratulating the fresh entrants to the bandwagon of ministers. The Prime Minister ordered Air Force One to be refuelled a day later to embark on a sojourn to France where he and his large entourage were all smiles enjoying the French hospitality, dressed in their opulent Sunday best with not a care in the world. The President continued with his visit to Kuwait and kept his date with the Russian President, while the Prime Minister had no wish to disappoint the Chinese. The show must go on. Say goodbye to responsibility, principles, ethics and national pride, and welcome opportunism, expediency and necessity that have become our national trait and that surprise no one anymore. Do our political masters comprehend the real spirit of democracy or they just want to seek power at any cost? The mandate given by the people in the 2008 general elections is already torn to pieces. The PPP has headed the various assortments of non-functional coalition governments for the last three years, none of which has exhibited any concern with the real problems the masses face in their daily lives or cared for the public opinion in formulating policies. The President of the country is engaged most of the time in the politics of survival, wheeling and dealing in all possible permutations and combinations, in his capacity as the Co-Chairman of the party, to buy out the opposition under the pretext of reconciliation. He has found no shortage of takers. Moreover, the role of the opposition is construed as adversity, especially when most of our leaders of substance have skeletons in their cupboards or face charges of financial scams warranting executive protection. The judiciary, despite its new found independence and the so-called judicial activism, remains toothless against the immense influence and manoeuvrability of the elected representatives. The people remain silent spectators in a state of despondency and helplessness. A strange revenge is being taken from democracy. The detachment of the leaders with the people, who elected them, has reached appalling proportions. The President prioritised immediate interaction with the American public in the aftermath of Operation Geronimo by dispatching an adulatory article to the US press that was published the following day. The Prime Minister spoke to the European media and teams were dispatched to confide with the overseas friends. The indigenous media was left to speculate, while foreign reporters beamed their live coverage of information gathered from their reliable insiders. The Prime Ministers speech to Parliament after six days of dead silence appeared more for the benefit of the English speaking audience or perhaps the Americans than the locals. The people are considered unworthy of being taken into confidence and are left to lick their wounds in the bliss of their ignorance. The whole episode is shrouded in mystery. Many are not quite certain if, indeed, it was Osama bin Laden that was taken out. Why no photographs of the body have been released, how could the DNA be verified beyond any doubt within 12 hours while at sea, and why the body was disposed of in the Arabian Ocean in an indecent haste? The Americans have been evasive and unable to offer any logical explanation to these and a host of other questions being asked by the international and Pakistani media alike. If our government has any answers, it is keeping them close to its chest. Meanwhile, the briefing to the joint session, on May 13, just reaffirmed what has become common knowledge. It was an intelligent exercise to satisfy our gullible public for whom witnessing the top army and air force personnel submit themselves to Parliament was a novelty. The acceptance of responsibility and offer to resign by the DG ISI was the icing on the cake. But the fact remains that we have been knocked out in the first round and the victor is celebrating by usurping all the credit and trampling all over us with intermittent words of compassion, consoling and threatening at the same time. The only silver lining is that we had no part in brutally executing the unarmed Osama and the defenceless members of his house, including his wife (notwithstanding their crimes), to which the Americans have a lot to answer for to the custodians of human rights. The political landscape appears murkier today as it is drowned in apathy, indifference and deception. Although a joint parliamentary resolution was worked out and passed after 10 hours of debate, the political leadership remains embroiled in mutual recriminations without a clue on how to move forward. It is futile to talk about the rights of our sovereignty. These were leased to the Americans long ago in return for a few dollars and General (retd) Musharraf had capitulated in 2002 to the American threat, virtually surrendering our land and resources. The American war on terror has secured the developed world, but has brought terrorism deep inside our country. A weak and bankrupt government can neither abruptly cut the hand that feeds, nor can it suddenly decide to confront the might of the NATO forces. Anyway, our democratic government must rise to the occasion and prove that it possesses the competence to govern and take the country out of the deep quagmire that we are deeply sunk in? The country is in dire need of strong leadership that should dispassionately reassess our strengths and weaknesses and take hard decisions to put it on the path of self-reliance and ruthlessly eradicate extremism. A leadership that can inspire and motivate the people to sustain the hardships consequent to such steps and be responsive to the demands made of them; a leadership that can be on the same page as the common citizens and not a class above; and a leadership that takes the lead by example in making personal sacrifices. It is time for our people to decide if they wish to linger on with the status quo or bring change. It is time for the people to force their leaders to accept their will. It is time for all of us to realise that change cannot be brought about by just wishing it, sitting in the comforts of our homes and talking about it. Is there no one to wake up our political leadership that has been unable to see the peoples power? Are we not even as good as the people of the Middle East, who have altered their destinies? n The writer is an Engineer and an Entrepreneur.