Pakistan has had its perennial begging bowl fully extended in the US this week, with the government led by the countrys Head of State, Asif Ali Zardari, on its knees seeking the proverbial crumbs. Crumbs there are on offer, but far fewer than asked for and needed. Pledges aplenty are made, but delivery is another matter. However, there has been a trickle from Washington. Money has come in under three headings: the omnibus budget, the bridge supplementary budget, and a spring supplementary budget. During the presidential visit US$ 2.3 billion in aid has been approved (Kerry-Lugar is on its way to finalisation), and Zardari has pleaded for a reimbursement of US$ 1.6 billion from the Coalition Support Fund to cover the army action in Malakand and Swat. The Friends of Democratic Pakistan have, on September 24, expressed their desire to help thats it. Coincidentally with the extension of the begging bowl, the anti-American faction within Pakistan maintains its stance - the Yanks are coming, we are in the throes of being taken over by the advancing marines in cahoots with private security firms. Now, taking into account the vast and extended security measures that are in place for members of the Pakistan government, from the president down to the grossly inflated Cabinet and other flunkies, one must wonder at the protests that flow concerning the Americans in Pakistan and their security measures - they are far more in need of protection than the locals what with the overall anti-American attitude and the waiting Taliban, who, incidentally, are out to get not just the Americans, but the average non-Taliban supporting Pakistani as well. As editorialised a publication of the national press on the first of the many days of Eid, Pakistan cannot afford to look at every American as a spy or marine, for the last thing we need is to become more isolated from the world business, development and aid communities. Also coincidental with the begging delegation the US trip was a series of negative press reports that are also not easily affordable. In The New York Times of September 21 reporting on the US aid package to Pakistan we are told that the Obama Administration officials are debating how much of the assistance should go directly to a government that has been widely accused of corruption Then, over the extended country shutdown, on September 23, Transparency Internationals 2009 Global Corruption report was released, in time for the Friends of Democratic Pakistan to read and digest it. How, it has been asked, can one expect any donor to come forward to assist Pakistan in its current financial crisis when there is not one law against corruption? One of General (retd) Pervez Musharrafs gravest sins was the promulgation in October 2007 of that obnoxious, unlawful and unconstitutional National Reconciliation Ordinance which has let off the corruption hook an uncountable number of politicians and their hangers-on. This has been compounded by the governments Draft Holder of Public Office Act 2009, a substitute for the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, which will give yet further immunity against corruption. No holder of public office can be prosecuted for an alleged offence during his tenure and the protection is in place up to three years after he ceases to hold office. So it is open field days for our holders of public office to do as they will with the national assets and with any and all aid or financial assistance that may flow in from any source. Fine and dandy - but is this what the national interest is all about? That same day Pakistan was included in the US State Departments Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to curb human trafficking. The Government of Pakistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking If it does not improve its performance it will be downgraded to the bottom category, Tier 3. Human trafficking is, of course, the result of corrupt practices. Corruption is regarded as a serious impediment to donors and to investors, and coupled with an unstable government of persons ill-equipped by education and by a natural supply of brain cells, unfit to deal with a dysfunctional country in desperate need of basic reforms on all fronts, it is all a grand put-off. Then we have the added joy of the Taliban. A report in the issue of September 28 of Newsweek warns against what is called Pakistans New Taliban, those expelled from the Malakand/Swat areas who are now allegedly gathering their forces in the centre and south of the country. We are told to expect renewed action from them - Taliban-type action - unless they are swiftly nipped in the bud. They are said to be more dangerous than the old lot as they have a heightened ability to give protection to terrorists. On September 24, The New York Times ran a story under the heading US Says Taliban Use Pakistan Lair to Widen War. Senior US military and intelligence sources (General Stanley McChrystal included) have it that Pakistan is giving sanctuary to senior Taliban leaders to stoke a widening campaign of violence in northern and western Afghanistan. Belief is that some elements of the ISI are still supporting the Taliban leadership in Pakistan and that some of its senior officials see Mullah Omar as a valuable asset should the United States leave Afghanistan and the Taliban regain power. None of this exudes good cheer, nor does it spread confidence in those here or abroad. The writer is a freelance columnist.