AIJAZ Z. SYED The Pakistanis have gotten so used to the setbacks and betrayals over the past six decades or so that nothing seems to shock or surprise them anymore. The tsunami unleashed by the Memogate, however, is proving to be an exception. Even as a stunned nation tries to make sense of the claim by Pakistani American Mansoor Ijaz that he delivered President Zardaris SOS to Adm. Mike Mullen, the then chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, in May seeking help against his own army, its increasingly worried about its future. The now infamous memo, purportedly put together on behalf of Zardari by Pakistans US Ambassador Husain Haqqani, who has been booted out since, sought the US help in pre-empting a military takeover in the wake of Osama Bin Ladens killing. As Ijaz, a powerbroker and fixer with ties to the CIA, explains in his FT piece, he (Zardari) needed an American fist on his army chiefs desk to end any misguided notions of a coup and fast. In return, Washington was promised total cooperation and an upside down transformation of the land of the pure in the image of the master. Suggesting the complicity of the army in the sheltering of Bin Laden and other top Al-Qaeda and Taleban leaders and much else, the authors of the memo apparently offered to take out the top guns of the army and bring about what academic eggheads love to call a paradigm shift in Pakistans political and security priorities and goals. The new strategic shift, if it had been successfully engineered, would have given a carte blanche to Uncle Sam to do what he pleased, including carry out more Abbottabad-style assassinations, perpetuate drone terror and even land American boots on Pakistani soil. More interestingly, the memo offered to place national security officials with trusted advisers that include ex-military and civilian leaders favourably viewed by Washington at its beck and call and wherever it wanted them placed. The icing and cherry on the cake, of course, was the offer to bring Pakistans arsenal of nuclear weapons under a more verifiable, and transparent regime. In other words, turning over the control of Pakistans nuclear assets to the coalition of the willing. This is again something that was sure to gladden Washington as US hawks and Western pundits have long obsessed over the danger of Pakistani nukes falling into the hands of terrorists. No wonder then the Memogate has outraged the Pakistanis almost as much as the discovery of Osama in the idyllic Abbottabad did. The anti-American sentiment in the country is already high. And for all their protestations of innocence and attempts at passing the buck by the protagonists, it seems such an offer was indeed made to Washington. Ijaz has since issued a pile of evidence in support of his claim including transcripts of telephone conversations, BlackBerry messages and correspondence with Haqqani. Remaining doubts have been cleared with Adm. Mullen himself confirming he did receive such a memo. The government finds itself in a jam worse than the one it found itself over Abbottabad. This is an extraordinary crisis in Pakistans less than ordinary history. Its unlikely to resolve itself with the departure of the man who had been always seen as Americas man in Washington, rather than someone representing Pakistan. What is fascinating to distant observers like me though is the fact that the whole debate on the issue has been focused on the question of authorship of the memo and why someone like Ijaz was used to seek the US help when direct communication lines were open with Washington. What are his motives in blowing the whistle now after acting as the go-between in this whole saga? If he is his masters voice, whats it his masters hope to achieve with these disclosures? These questions will haunt Pakistan for some time to come. But more important than these questions, methinks, is the content of the memo. In a classic case of missing the forest for the trees, the whole emphasis has been on the medium, in this case Haqqani and Ijaz, rather than the message they carried. There has been little discussion about the damning contents of the memo and the absurdity of an elected government plotting against the state and offering national sovereignty on a platter to a foreign power. Haqqanis departure was imminent. No tears will be shed for him. Lets not forget though he was only a messenger, or stenographer as someone aptly put it. What about those who dictated the message? Would such betrayal of national interest and honour be thinkable elsewhere? Given the mess Pakistan is already in, the army and opposition may not like to upset the applecart just yet. But would the people forgive and forget the perfidy of the political class? Only time will tell considering the ephemeral nature of public memory. Be that as it may, this is a moment of reckoning for Pakistan and its people. The key to Pakistans continuing political instability and bankruptcy of its institutions is its overdependence and slavish reliance on foreign masters and allies. The Pakistanis have in much of their history lived with the two As the overambitious Army and an overbearing America. Imran Khan may be oversimplifying the issue when he blamed the US aid to be the root cause of Pakistans ills. But theres something indeed there in the argument of the leader everyone seems to be eagerly awaiting. As Iqbal, the ideological father of Pakistan according to some, would warn: Aye tair-e-lahoti uss rizq se maut achi/jis rizq se aati hai parwaz mein kotahi. (O bird soaring in the sky, death is better than feeding on the prey that fetters your flight) Isnt it about time Pakistan set itself free and made a fresh start in a new direction? Pakistan needs to rediscover its independence of spirit. US drones kill innocent people on a daily basis but you dont hear a whimper from those in power. With its potential and resources and its people more than half of whom are young are its most precious asset Pakistan deserves better than the current lot of self-serving politicians. The popular anger and outrage that the Memogate has provoked should be channelized to build a new, truly free Pakistan. Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Middle East based commentator Arab News