As predicted, the militants of Swat have proceeded with alacrity to demand the next pound of flesh: Buner, Shangla...Islamabad? Sufi Muhammad, the self-anointed authority on the Shariah, has declared that the superior courts are 'un-Islamic' and, therefore, it would be against the injunctions of religion to approach them. He has also demanded of the government that it should abolish the regular courts and set-up Darul-Qaza by April 23 (since extended indefinitely) and appoint Qazis at all Shariah courts within one month. He went on to threaten that, in case the demands were not met as stipulated, his men would start a protest campaign in the region. After extending approval to the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation within a record two hours without even bothering to comprehend its patently destructive ramifications for the entire country, the members of the National Assembly seem to be having second thoughts as is vividly indicated by the statements emanating from all across the political spectrum. Even the PML-N Quaid sounded a word of caution that the Taliban militants in Swat were trying to export their harsh version of the Shariah to other parts of the country. In an interview with a US publication, he said: "They are now threatening to get out of Swat and take other areas in their custody. So, we have to avoid that situation." Isn't it rather odd for the political leadership to see danger within less than a week of it having stamped its approval on the highly controversial Nizam-i-Adl Regulation? What were the pressures that forced it to do what it did and what are the compulsions now that it is seeing red in the so-called peace deal? Truly incomprehensible are the vagaries that rule the national political mindset. Indeed, it is a matter of grave concern that we are being guided by a coterie of leaders that is either grossly handicapped in its avowed comprehension of the events that are shaping within the country and around us and decisions that are being taken in great haste, or it is simply unmindful of their debilitating impact on the state of Pakistan in the immediate and the distant future. In either of the above cases, it presents a truly tragic scenario. While the abominable policy of capitulation before the gun running militants apparently continues for Swat and other areas around the region, the government's approach in tackling the long lacerating problem in Balochistan is diametrically different, but even more destructive. Its perception that foreign interests, most notably Russia, India and Afghanistan, are funding the unrest in the province may have some justification, but it makes for a poor ploy to hide its own lack of understanding and effort to address the continually deteriorating situation. Putting the blame on foreign powers has not helped in the past as was so humiliatingly proven leading to the debacle in 'East Pakistan', and it would not help even now. Back in 1971, our leadership made a grave error of judgement in believing that the use of brute force would help it keep 'East Pakistan' in spite of perpetrating atrocities on who were its own people. That was not to be. But, instead of learning from the tragedy and remedying its faulty approach, it has gone a step further in replicating the disaster in Balochistan. Sheikh Mujib ur Rehman was dubbed a 'traitor' then. All Baloch leaders fighting for autonomy for the province, as envisaged in the constitution, are being dubbed as 'traitors' now. It is alleged that they are getting support from countries that are, understandably, not positively inclined towards Pakistan. While the government pursues a policy of surrender before the militant hordes in Swat, it is unfurling new and increasingly more brutal tactics, including murder and kidnapping, to further estrange the people of Balochistan. Consequently, they have been forced to a point where they have started demanding 'independence' instead of 'autonomy'. Is there anyone who would blame them except the myopic perception that rules the intelligence agencies and those who execute it for the sake of survival in the corridors of power? It makes for a truly destructive cocktail As the Prince of Denmark would put it, there is something rotten in the state of Pakistan. It is neither difficult to understand it, nor to trace the symptoms of its origin. It lies ensconced in the bosom of a self-destructive proclivity of not being able to analyse a situation rationally and dispassionately, with an intention of finding credible solutions that would secure the interest of Pakistan. Instead, being stuck with a self-righteous predilection, the intelligence and the political combine is unwilling to budge and, therefore, is squarely on course to committing increasingly damaging blunders in tackling the imposing challenges that the state of Pakistan is confronted with. Its grave inadequacies, an inherent unwillingness and gross inability are the reasons that have plunged the country into an irretrievable chaos and anarchy. The policy contradictions are so glaring, the comprehension of the multi-faceted currents that are shaping around us so superficial and the approach in addressing the mounting problems so faulty and self-serving, that there does not appear to be a way out of the quagmire that we have been pushed into. How long can this last before it all goes up missing? The malady is so deep-set and so far past the corrective powers of any medicine, no matter how strong and pungent, that the state of Pakistan cannot do with anything less than an operation. It needs to revisit its interests, its responsibilities in the national, regional and international context, re-prioritise its objectives and then proceed to formulate policies that would serve the attainment of these goals. With the political leadership that we have ruling the country, so pathetically epitomised by the interior advisor of the regime who gives out a statement on the floor of the Senate that Russia is involved in instigating the people of Balochistan and promptly goes on to say that he would give an in-camera policy statement on the situation the next day, there is not even a remote possibility that the steep and all-encompassing decline can be checked in any manner soon. There is practically no friend that we have around us today and one continues to witness efforts to drive others away. Is this a kind of statement that should be made openly on the floor of the house, not even remaining mindful of the fact that, only recently, Pakistan had fought a full-scale war against Russia in Afghanistan on the behest of the US? Should the state then be left at the mercy of this chicanery, or should remedial steps be unfurled to stop the slide? Pakistan stands at a crossroads. It needs wise and pragmatic leadership and I don't see it coming from the incumbent aberration The writer is an independent political analyst based in Islamabad. E-mail: