To commemorate the birthday of Benazir Bhutto an op-ed was printed in the Washington Post under the name of Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan. Politicos have speech writers, so there is nothing wrong with them having 'article writers', (in our case a confirmed and prevalent habit of the infamous Information Ministry which spends our money on hiring hacks to write rubbish propaganda). So we must thank Our Man in Washington for the June 22 column and for the fine phrases about the West being too willing to dance with dictators and how dancing with dictators never pays off. I wonder if he has seen Kevin Costner's fine film, Dances with Wolves, because traditionally dictators and wolves do have traits in common. Be that as it may, Husain Haqqani has spent much of his life as a journalist, and a good journalist at that, and became even more proficient at writing when he moved on to being a professor at Boston U. There have been mumblings and grumblings from the 'patriots' amongst us about Husain being more of an ambassador for the US to Pakistan than vice versa - but that is all a bit of sour grapes. Do we want a belligerent man, who will just not get on with the Washingtonians, and who will quite unrealistically represent a false Pakistan? Or is it better, in our client position, with begging bowl extended and a rumpus all over the land, to have a man who is ranked as one of the top movers and shakers in the Washington diplomatic scene and who has unlimited access to the American establishment and administration? Not a difficult question to answer. Yes, in the case of Pakistan, the West has waltzed and fox trotted with all the military men who are the dictators referred to merely because it suited the West, and in particular America to do so. The American line, since the days of George Washington, has been that there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, that the American national interest reigns supreme. Fair enough. We hear enough about Pakistan's national interest and it has always been in Pakistan's national interest, one way or another, never to refuse a dance with America - in fact, one could say that perhaps Pakistan has been the supplicant to get on to the dance floor. Zardari/Haqqani accuses the US of democratically doing nothing when the army launched its coup against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but then democratically it was right as ZAB had just rigged a general election (which he had no need to do) and stirred up the country to rise against him. When the US stepped in to prop up Pakistan and itself in the fight against the Russians in Afghanistan no gun was held at Zia ul Haq's head - he was a willing, very willing, participator. That the US, as HH puts it, "took the next bus out of town" when it was all over is no excuse for Pakistan to have created, trained and armed the Taliban with whom the country is now at war. US baiting is a currently popular game, what with the drone arrangement and whatever other closed door deals have been done to keep Zardari where he is and doing what he is doing. There are also certain factions within Pakistan whose anti-Americanism (though they send their children to learn in the US and willingly queue up for visas) leads them to support anyone who they perceive to be battling against the sole superpower. The problem with calling for the West to support a Pakistan led by Zardari is that Zardari is inherently anything but a democrat. The US, after a fashion, is still dancing with a Pakistani-style dictator who has undermined the parliamentary system under which constitutionally this country is supposed to function by his arrogation unto himself of the full dictatorial powers possessed by the dictator he ousted. So, if as stated, his most immediate goal is to entice the 'civilised world' to rally for democracy, he will firstly have to prove that he does possess democratic credentials of a sort. As for being economically independent, that cannot happen with the leadership this country has suffered over the years and with its in-built incapability to settle down, bring law and order to the fore, and knuckle under to some hard work and drastically lessen the endemic corruption which according to the latest Transparency International report has increased 400 percent over the past three years. This country, from its inception, has relied on the USA to come to its aid economically - the first time the begging bowl was extended being in 1948. For 60 long years, Pakistan has been dependent upon American largesse (with the odd break here and there when the US was not forthcoming) even when it has been derogatorily described as 'peanuts'. That said and done, Pakistan might now to be on the right track, if the army and the people can hold out. The writer is a freelance columnist