The question most often asked is: what is behind the general air of mismanagement and lack of probity in the national environment. This question has yet to be answered with sufficient clarity. Meanwhile, real problems continue to multiply: from instability to insecurity, from bad governance to a brittle economy. Those in positions of power and responsibility have never been presented with a clear choice - perform or perish. Moral apathy is one factor. Those who like to present themselves before the international community as compliant moderates are often no moderates when it comes to the naked pursuit of money. The dominance of larceny at the top feeds the culture of double game and backtalk. Short-term gain has yet to be meaningfully balanced against long-term pain. The continuation of an unfeeling status quo continues to fuel the sense of powerlessness, hopelessness, and humiliation - a fertile ground for evil to exploit impressionable minds. Not enough premium is paid to the value of earning an honest livelihood, because those who do so are visibly seen at the bottom of the heap, while those who do not do so live the life of Riley. Behind the costume of false legitimacy is the capacity of big money to suborn. It is a cultural issue - the power of big money to shock and awe. The disconnect between words and deeds is taking its own toll. One such manifestation is the proliferation of showy piety and phoney patriotism, without substance. The answers to key questions cannot be credibly avoided. For example, what kind of a socio-political set-up will incarcerate Faiz and coronate Zardari? What kind of a Parliament will rename the Frontier with an ethnically-charged and divisive name of Pakhtunkhwa, when, in the not so distant past, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was castigated as a seditionist for using the nomenclature Pakhtunistan? Meanwhile, segments of the educated youth remain overactive on the Internet, where the blanket of anonymity, which the Internet affords, sometimes brings out profanity and meanness. Far better it is to look in the eye, state the needful to ones face, and write under ones own real name. There is considerable talk about power shortages, but perhaps the real shortage is that of moral energy. The task of leadership is to help people conquer their fears, not to provide endless excuses for dependency and defeatism. The problems, for all the hype, are not unconquerable. For a man-made problem, there is always a man-made solution. A society where being shrewd is viewed as more desirable than being straightforward shall continue to be entrapped in the self-defeating quagmire of a double game. The writer is a barrister and a senior political analyst.