The presidential system of governance is with us in full flow though we continually boast that Pakistan operates under the parliamentary system as dictated by Westminster. The presidential post remains as it has done for almost a decade - supreme, the jewel in the flawed tawdry crown that Pakistan has now become under the watch of its various leaderships. Properly, and according to the prevailing system, the prime minister has been relegated to his rightful place - which is practically nowhere. Meanwhile, those on an even lower rung continue to manifest evidence of a huge disconnect. The unelected man in charge of the internal security of the country, the unofficial interior minister, is either prone to telling porkies or he knows not what he says. What was his ploy in announcing to the world that wisdom had saved the leadership of the Republic which had decided against feasting at the doomed Marriott on September 20? What was his aim - he knew there was never such a plan? The party was moved from the Parliament House, which could possibly be a suicide bomber's target, to the prime ministerial hacienda which is an impossible target for a dumper truck. Rahman Malik's reputation is hardly shining and is decreasing by leaps and bounds as the days pass and the bombs blow. He presided over the security arrangements of Benazir Bhutto and we know how successful he was at that. Now he has the nation at his mercy. Then we have the government's own TV channel and its supposed boss, the Information Ministry (when is it being disbanded?). For a second rather comical time, involving the public display of a hapless president, the head-honchos of PTV and the InfoMin failed to get their act together and again on September 20 President Asif Zardari, thanks to them, was made to look somewhat foolish. He needs to rev up his PR machine, and rather than relying on friendly amateurs get himself some competent professionals. Still with September 20, we have another large disconnect with public and official perceptions of tragic and alarming events. Even more tragic and alarming and with a greater body count was the suicide bombing at Wah, in the midst of a military cantonment, on August 21 in which were killed some 80 poor and deprived Pakistani labourers (not diplomats or foreigners) and well over a hundred wounded, how many subsequently died we do not know. Priorities are indeed wonky. There was no great national or international outcry about the outrage committed against members of the toiling awam. It was all forgotten within a couple of days - no elite space had been violated. There is also a sort of disconnect when it comes to the daily toll of lives lost in the frontier areas where our religious warriors operate with seeming impunity. In the remote areas of Bajaur and Mohmand and so forth death and destruction is accepted as normal. The Taliban are with us, they form a part of this nation. They have support, it is said, from within the ranks of the army and intelligence agencies, and from those members of the public who subscribe to murder and violence in order to achieve their particular and peculiar heavenly ordained goals. The Americans, unlike the Pakistanis who but pay lip service, do take the militant insurgency seriously. They are rightly concerned about Pakistan, as is much of the rest of the world, situated as it is. The myth floated that all would be well on the local terrorist front with the ousting of the hated by many erstwhile president, General Pervez Musharraf, has sadly been disproved. Since his departure, the militants have upped their anti-social activities, taking them to new heights. Zardari, as an all-powerful president, has a job on his hands and it is not evident that he is up to it, surrounded as he is by party sycophants who have been allotted jobs not on merit but on a cronyism basis. He discovered long ago that the path to power in Pakistan lies firmly through Washington and its offshoot embassy in Islamabad. Being a novice at the game of political wrangling - his wheeling and dealing skills having been directed to other areas - he is wisely being realistic and is not uttering too much on anything, even in the earth-shaking meeting with President George Bush in New York where he was 'assisted' by seven others, most of them as clueless as he (GWB had three). Zardari, luckily, at home has merely to deal with a politically challenged 'civil society' and awam who have little understanding of the necessary political manipulations that must take place. Having for years embraced Musharraf as a child cuddles its teddybear, when the USA felt he was shedding his fluff, he was chucked on to the floor. Zardari has become the substitute, in the same situation, playing a double game. One thing is sure. The Americans are going to escalate, and GWB's departure is only likely to make them more determined. Last week, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, told a Senate committee that the militants who so far have been allowed to freely and dangerously exist all over FATA and its neighbouring areas are a threat for the entire country. He was very clear: "The War On Terror started in this region. It must end there." How's that for sovereignty and respect? If the Pakistan army cannot help itself and its country, then it must expect assistance from elsewhere. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: arfc@cyber.net.pk