This blighted country is forever finding its way onto some unflattering international listing. This time, Pakistan has made it to number nine in a listing of dysfunctional countries compiled by an independent research organisation. We stand proudly sandwiched between the Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic. The relevance is not in the authenticity of this listing, but the international perception of Pakistan. Whether dysfunctional or not though signs point to us being in a highly dysfunctional state the national mindset is definitely dysfunctional when it comes to matters and issues of governance and our place in today's world. This mindset is not helped by our media, particularly the electronic media with its plethora of news channels which feature, turn by turn, groups of gyrating commentators projecting dysfunctional views and news to dysfunctional anchor people who are supposed to be impartial and objective but are in fact quite the opposite. The press too has its share of blinkered minds which project a good deal of venom, mostly directed at the USA, sole superpower and great benefactor of Pakistan. The truth, which seems to escape them all, is that this world is held by American power of which there are no signs of an imminent demise. Talk of national pride and honour are futile, as are boasts of being a nuclear power. The other nuclear powers do not jump up and down every other day reminding us about their nuclear assets, flexing muscles they have but which Pakistan does not have. This dysfunctional government which does not know whether it is coming or going, led by a group of un-elected incompetents suspected of corruption, needs to clarify where it stands vis--vis the USA from which it continues to gladly accept millions of dollars on a regular basis. If it had clarity, it might permeate downwards into the minds of those willing to accept American munificence but who delight in maligning the US obviously out of some sense of inferiority. Government and people need to rid themselves of some of the many chips they carry upon their combined shoulders. How many have worked out what would be the condition of Pakistan had it not accepted and eaten up all those billions of dollars poured in by the US? Without the billions, for sure, rather than merely being labelled dysfunctional the country would be notched downwards as failed. Has anyone thought that perhaps it is the growing international perception, with justification, of Pakistan being dysfunctional, with a government in a state of paralysis, which encouraged the US into taking the unilateral action in the Mohmand area earlier this month? The government is seen as being unable to control anything and anything includes the situation in the Taliban dominated areas where the Frontier Corps men, up to now in charge, are perceived as being sympathetic to the Taliban. The US is paying Pakistan to fight the good fight against terrorism, and this fight has always been Pakistan's fight as well as that of the US and the rest of the world. What with the Taliban besieging Peshawar, this should not be too hard for our "experts" to figure out. It also should not be too hard for them to realise the true perspective of Pakistan's clout and power. Hubris does not work. We must recognise, however grudgingly, our own stature and place in the world scheme. Our ambassador in Washington, my friend Husain Haqqani, is having a tough time, rushing around trying to placate a rather miffed USA. As he rightly once said, if you want to look someone straight in the eye, make sure you are the same height. The US has the measure of Pakistan's helplessness. As Director of the Woodrow Wilson Centre's Asia Program, Robert Hathaway, remarked the other day, "Suspicions between the American military and the Pakistan military are the highest, they've been in many years, and there's a great deal of uneasiness in the United States because the new government in Pakistan seems to be bogged down and incapable of dealing with many of the serious issues confronting the country." Then we had Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, telling his fellow members, "We believe we're paying too much and getting too little. The Pakistanis believe exactly the oppositeBoth sides feel that the costs of the relationship may soon outweigh the benefits. The status quo is unsustainable." Not good. And neither is his remark: "We can't keep jumping from one crisis to the next, relying on exceptional diplomats and military officers to save us from disaster." Added to this are the concerns expressed last week by congressional auditors about where all the millions of dollars given to Pakistan for its counter-terrorism efforts have gone. It has been estimated that over one-third are "subject to accounting problems, including duplication and possible fraud" (Washington Post, June 25). Lastly, we have the case of the misguided student, a Pakistani on a full scholarship to Harvard, who, brainwashed by our media and its "experts," claimed his 15 minutes of fame. Home on vacation, he was given an award by his old Islamabad school for past academic triumphs including the gaining of a full Harvard scholarship. Because the American ambassador was giving out the award he saw fit, in a moment of righteous indignation, to refuse to accept it, citing the Mohmand incident as his reason. He will return to the US and to his benefactor Harvard, where he has been studying for the past couple of years, to complete his studies and claim the full benefit of his scholarship. Such are double standards in the national mindset. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: