Never a dull moment here in Pakistan. A heavy-mandated Prime Minister makes a failed attempt - how-so-very clumsy it was - to fire the Army Chief and pay dearly for it. An adventurist Army Chief surreptitiously orders the occupation of a strategic mountaintop in the disputed Kashmir state without fully taking the Prime Minister of the country on board and ends up in a humiliating retreat, fatally damaging Pakistan’s case and cause for the occupied state.

His next disastrous move - dispatching the Pakistan Army into the tribal areas to please the Yankees and start a fight with our own compatriots, spawning an unending period of terrorism, ruining the lives of millions of people and destabilising the country itself.

According to Bruce Riedel, who earlier as a senior CIA official helped President Barack Obama formulate his AfPak policy and presently is a policy specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Muhsarraf was not honest with the Americans while formally committing to do the US bidding in return for payment in dollars.

Bruce in an article, penned sometime back, wrote: “Our man in Islamabad turned out to be helping the Taliban regroup.......” He also stated: “Pakistan remains the epicentre of the global jihad”. So this is what Musharraf worked for - to push Pakistan into the ‘line of fire’.

His recent admission of agreeing to American drone strikes in Pakistan has evoked devastating observations by one of India’s leading columnists, Shakhar Gupta, in the Indian Express. Under the caption “National Interest: General Musharraf (Deluded)”, Gupta recalls his conversation with the General during which he said: “That is the blunder you make, a completely wrong presumption. You presume stupidly that I am a dictator. Pakistan has never seen more democracy than now. Ask all your friends in the Pakistani media whom I know well, go ask them.”

And here is Gupta’s assessment of the General: “Musharraf is a deeply, terminally delusional man, who passionately believed his own mythologies: that by overthrowing, jailing and exiling a Prime Minister enjoying a two-thirds majority, he had only restored real democracy in Pakistan, and that his people loved him as a liberal democrat as they had loved no other but Jinnah.......Or, now, continue believing that his people are missing him so desperately that millions would line the streets to welcome him back, and that would guarantee his security against the judiciary he had jerked around so rudely. His delusions have finally caught up with him.......”

Musharraf was right in saying that he felt “humiliated” when he appeared before a court in Karachi. Later, however, he was seen running away post-haste from another court in Islamabad.

Further, we have a lacklustre caretaker government in Islamabad. Why isn’t there a Foreign Minister in the Cabinet, who would have represented us in Brussels in the recent tripartite meeting? The job was done by our Army Chief. The other two from USA and Afghanistan were the Secretary of State and the President of Afghanistan. Our Foreign Secretary, of course, was there, but he was only a part of the team headed by an army officer. Why couldn’t the Prime Minister himself go or at least send one of the Cabinet Ministers? The Law Minister would have been a good choice. The COAS could then have been a part of the Pakistani team.

One wonders, why the PML-N and some of the other political parties have not asked for a replacement of the Attorney General? The incumbent is known to be a handpicked appointee, who faithfully defended the previous agreement before the Supreme Court and sometimes would go to the length of appearing to be defying the senior judges to protect Zardari and other PPP office bearers.

While it was impolitic for the caretaker Home Minister to have hinted about his tilt towards the PML-N leadership, Najam Sethi hit the nail on the head when he revealed in his characteristic manner that Zardari was still calling the shots. Sethi’s later explaining the matter may have some substance in it, but the perception has remained like the arrow that had left the bow. After all, he was one of the PPP nominees for the caretakers’ post.

Prior to the drama being played out by Musharraf, we have had the sudden and sensational arrival of Dr Tahirul Qadri and his long march laced with demagoguery. It was, indeed, an amazing feat: tens of thousands of his followers braving the cold weather and rain, spending days and nights in Islamabad, out in the open. It is unfortunate that his mission failed, with the result that all sorts of tainted politicians have managed to cross the electoral bridge and have been blessed with the right to contest the elections. The hopes to have better candidates this time have failed to materialise. Good that PTI has come up with a large number of new faces. Hopefully, many of them will win seats in the National and Provincial Assemblies.

The May elections, indeed, will determine the direction the country will follow during the next five years. The daily bomb blasts and the targeted killings could have been halted to some extent and for sometime if a serious civil-military consensus had been forged to hold credible talks with the TTP and strict security measures taken against the militants. One or two half-hearted attempts made, petered out for lack of conviction and will.

Our relationship with USA was jolted a number of times. Within the span of a few months, we had the Raymond Davis episode, the Salala killings, the Parliament’s unanimous resolution, the closure of Shamsi Airbase, the stopping of Nato and US container supplies and, above all, the stealth attack on Abbottabad and the stated killing of Osama bin Laden.

Recall the unique lawyers movement, boosted by a leading political party, which forced a stubborn President to give in with the Army Chief nudging him to yield. The phenomenal restoration of the Chief Justice and his colleagues, and the emergence of a fearless and independent Supreme Court, has opened a new chapter in the history of Pakistan.

The surprising restraint on the part of the Army Chief and the exposure by the electronic media of the shenanigans of politicians, generals, journalists, lawyers and civil servants have contributed considerably toward the building of a nascent democracy in the country.

Last but not the least, the daring and fearless, our own Malala, who has brought honour to the country and has been a continuing inspiration for the cause of worldwide education.

        The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a freelance political and international relations analyst.