The biggest shock of last week came in the form of the April 20 interview given by Mian Nawaz Sharif to USA Today. He seems to have shed his state of denial in which he and his party visibly and audibly existed and rather like Saint Paul on the road to Tarsus the light has descended upon him. His party having endorsed the Nizam-i-Adl regulation in the National Assembly on that sad Monday, April 13, with the sole exception of Lone Ranger Ayaz Amir who spoke up valiantly against it but did not say 'nay', it was ultra-strange to read that he "expressed concern on Monday about a controversial peace deal with Islamist militants" who have usurped the Swat Valley and "are trying to export their particularly harsh version of Shariah, in which the hands of thieves are amputated, women are forbidden from going outside, and adulterers are stoned to death." At least he sees the reality of the 'swift justice' demands. Reportedly, ensconced in "his palatial home on the outskirts of this city" (Lahore) the Mian expounded for an hour on the dangers poised by the advancing Taliban horde which is "now threatening to get out of Swat and take other areas into their custody" - and this from a man who previously reportedly warned all Pakistani journalists wishing to interview him that the word 'Taliban' was banned. However, he has no fears of a complete takeover believing that the insurgency could be quelled in a couple of years if sufficient economic development were to take place. Under the present circumstances as they are on the ground, and taking into account the utterances of Sufi Muhammad, Muslim Khan and the newly released by the newly independent Supreme Court Lal Masjid cleric, Abdul Aziz, the actual implementation of any development would seem impossible. Development is not the aim of these men, it is territory they are after, not schools or hospitals, and they are rather swiftly making inroads. Buner has fallen, reportedly into the hands of the local Taliban who have teamed up with their mates from over the Afghan border. What's next? With Swat, Malakand and adjoining areas in a state of Talibanised turmoil, most of those who now attempt to 'lead' remain in a blissful state of ignorance as to the true happenings and persist in denying the potential dangers poised to the country. The prime minister, the hapless wooden-faced Yousuf Raza Gilani, and the seemingly wooden-headed NWFP chief minister, Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, both wonder why the world and in particular the USA are concerned about the Swat surrender. They, unlike Nawaz Sharif, or Asif Ali Zardari who has termed the Taliban "a cancer" (and we all know how cancer spreads) apparently have no concerns and regard the NiA Regulation as the answer to all problems, totally disregarding the turmoil that abounds. Can Gilani visit Swat? Would he visit Swat? Would he embark upon a scenic drive in his bulletproof car around Malakand? Similarly, the ANP leadership nervous and unhappy in Peshawar (the supreme leader having even opted to leave Peshawar and take up residence in Islamabad) seems to have no plans to spend a calm weekend checking out the Swat situation and intermingling with Sufi Muhammad, Fazlullah, or Muslim Khan. Can it be that they would not be welcome there? They were all recently in Karachi, attending the wedding festivities of a party-man's progeny, their minds being at peace, and waxed lyrical to some foreign guests about the benefits and joys of the NiA and the blissful situation prevailing in Swat, with women going about their business and girls dutifully attending school. This state of denial is not foreign to the Pakistani nation. Historical facts and past happenings are camouflaged or even denied to fit in with a certain mindset imbued with blind belief, immune to the implications of the machinations of past governments and men who have been given or taken power. Now, at this point of the nation's life, to quote a news report in the New York Times of April 13: "The single biggest obstacle to stopping the advance of militancy is the attitudes of Pakistanis themselves, whose fury at the United States has led to blind support for everyone who goes against it," and that includes the Taliban and all their supportive militant organisations who have all decried democracy and its trappings. But not all in Pakistan wear blinkers, not all look upon men such as Baitullah Mehsud, whose movements are said to be unrestricted though there is a price upon his head, or Fazlullah, or Mangal Bagh whose violent aims are well articulated. There is a lot of fear, especially in the cities where small talk at gatherings now revolves around the Taliban and their advance and how it will affect the future of the citizens of Pakistan and the coming generation. There is also much trepidation about the attitude of the mighty army which is in tune with the abdication line adopted by the politicians - who is following who is not quite clear. Afterthought - A political joke from the erstwhile Soviet Union: Lenin showed us how to govern. Stalin showed us how not to govern. Khrushchev showed us that a fool can govern. Brezhnev showed us that not every fool can govern. Pakistan has never had a Lenin. Pakistan loves its fools. Pakistan rotates them in its seats of power. Most of them apart from being incompetent are also dishonest, fools only when it comes to matters that do not affect their own pockets or perks. The writer is a freelance columnist