The title of the column has been inspired by the statement made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, just before her current visit to this country, that her country has a set of expectations from Pakistan. While that may be true of the Americans, given that we enjoy the double status (whammy) of being their ally as well as receivers of aid, it made me think of our expectations of those who hold positions of power and authority in our country. We too have been biding our time, expecting our decision makers to spring into action, every time innocent lives have been targeted by terrorists and horror has overtaken our lives. We too have been expecting that unified strategies, foolproof arrangements, and ace intelligence will all get together on the same page to prevent Pakistan from looking helpless in the face of the onslaught from its enemies. Our expectations, in the current month, have exceeded their time limit and the baby now has to be delivered if the mother is to survive. The time for explanations is long over as is the patience with posturing by the Interior Minister Rehman Malik and others. One feels all the more sorry for Pakistan after Maliks briefings, instead of confident that our fate is in good and secure hands, who are working overtime to ensure that we come to no harm. The bulk of the Pakistanis now fully realise the fact that all the efforts and energies of its security personnel are being used to ensure that no harm comes to the selected few at the top and everyone else is dispensable because they classify as collateral damage. The reasons why this country continues to love its armed forces were amply demonstrated by the likes of Lt Yasir Abbas of the Pakistan navy and his soldiers, and the way they responded when they were confronted by terrorists after the security lapse at PNS Mehran. Officers and men of our fighting forces have made huge sacrifices whenever it has been demanded of them. But, sometimes, they are let down by the people who command them. The media briefing by Admiral Nauman Bashir, Chief of Naval Staff, in the wake of storming of PNS Mehran by the terrorists and the ensuing a 17-hour battle between five odd outsiders with the might of the state, was really wanting in even basic common sense. (The glimpse of his official car, a gleaming white, terribly expensive BMW, did not help either compared to the fact that the navy invented the palm facing inwards salute because they did not want to show hands dirtied from working on the deck.) He said that it was not a security failure and also went on to say that the terrorists were sharp-shooters and could have inflicted even more damage than they did, hence implying that we should be calm and happy that we only lost two of the ace aircraft and a few odd lives. The news that very close to the Mehran base is a marriage hall, run by the air force, is symptomatic of the business inclinations which have got the better of our armed services instead of preparedness for combat. A joke going around on SMS is about being welcomed to the Forces Hotline. It goes on to elaborate that the caller should press 1 for real estate, 2 for banking services, 3 for construction, 4 for logistics, 5 for agriculture, 6 for retail services, 7 for consumer goods and to call Brinks, if security is required Welfare activities have to be separated from the fighting arms. Perhaps, some 30 years ago this sort of hankering for all the good things in life, at par with those who are in multinational companies, would have been unthinkable in the armed forces who lived their simple and sheltered lives in tucked away cantonments, almost oblivious to how the other half lived. Sadly, their close encounters with political power undid all that and the chamak and dhamak of the outside world has coloured a lot of their vision and goals. An independent commission to look into the security lapses at both Abbottabad and the Mehran base must do its job so that the lapses are prevented in the future. One can try and emulate the Americans and their setting-up of a Homeland Security Department, after 9/11. They have been able to prevent a repeat of any major terrorist act on their soil and given all the talent we possess, we should be able to do the same if we give up infighting and put our collective heart and soul in it. Postscript: Earlier this week PIA did what it does best, offload a confirmed passenger because it probably needed the seat for some, you guessed it, last minute VIP passenger. It did not bank on the passenger being a stickler for detail with a nose for smelling rats, to boot. They called the lady, booked to fly back to Islamabad from Lahore on the 6.30 flight in the evening to tell her that the flight was cancelled and that the next one was at 9.30 and would she like to go on that. The lady said yes she would as she did not have a choice. She found out that she had been deceived when her colleagues booked on the earlier flight called her from the airport to find out why she was not there. None of them had received any phone calls from PIA to say their flight was cancelled and, on checking, it was revealed that there were no cancellations that day and every flight was on schedule. The lady in question went blue in the face calling everyone concerned about this, but was confronted each time with this well-practised response: Madam, but you changed your booking to 9.30 n The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: