David Kilcullen, advisor on the War on Terror to General David Petraeus, commander CENTCOM, has of late been vocal on the subject of Pakistan. Earlier this month, in the Wall Street Journal, he is quoted as saying, after the fiasco of the government, the containers, and the 'long march', that the reluctance of the Pakistani security forces to follow the directions of the civilian government represents "a classic precursor indicator to the collapse of the Pakistani government." In the Washington Post last Sunday, Kilcullen 'warned' readers that if Pakistan went out of control, it would 'dwarf' all crises in the world today, since this country is the central front in the war against terror. "Pakistan has 173 million people, 100 nuclear weapons, an army bigger than the US Army, and Al-Qaeda headquarters sitting right there in the two-thirds of the country that the government doesn't control." The two-thirds statement would seem to be an exaggeration; and how does one take his thinking that the military, the police and the intelligence services together form a rogue state within a state? Be all this as it may, what has been extraordinary this past week are the noises made by (not Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who may mean what he says but has no way he can carry it out) the President of the Republic, Asif Zardari, and Nawaz Sharif, once his professed ally in a war waged against a common enemy and then his bitter opponent when the enemy was routed. Their talk of 'reconciliation' is as nauseating as is the National Reconciliation Ordinance (which we hope will attract the attention of the born-again Supreme Court of Pakistan) because it is virtually impossible, the two men being united as they are in mutual loathing. When Zardari coined for his son the supposed remark of his murdered wife that democracy is the best revenge, and before he set out to prove it in his own fashion, someone should have reminded him of the old adage: "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." On March 5, 2008, he was cleared of five corruption charges as the courts had "abolished the cases against all public office holders", including corruption and illegal use of property under the NRO. He was cleared of the remaining charges on April 14, 2008. On April 19, 2008, he announced in a press conference in London that he would participate in the by-elections taking place on June 3 with a view towards becoming prime minister. He did not contest. He waited for General Pervez Musharraf's resignation on August 18, 2008, and then decided to become president. He surely ranks as one of Pakistan's most expensive accidents. Our head of state is never out of the news, or free from comment. Posted on the Foreign Policy website on March 20 was a list of the world's biggest losers. Zardari figures fifth on this prestigious listing. The headlines of late, says FP, has been filled with many prominent people who for one reason or another have been royally rogered. It sought to identify "which of these figures who have chosen a well-worn path to the limelight has done the most damage to their own reputations and the lives of those around them?" Zardari "may be plotting the ouster of his prime minister....He's on the ropes, his opposition is gaining strength, and meanwhile fraught, dangerous, complex Pakistan is hardly being governed." No one in this country, or none who knows it even in passing, can argue with the final five words. On the positive side of the Zardari problem is the matter of his health. We must all congratulate him on his miraculous recovery over the past 18 months or so. Whenever in those past dreary days he was summoned by Swiss, British, Pakistani or any other courts, to answer to a multitude of corruption cases he was always ailing. After his wife's assassination and the take over of the party of the people, we have heard no more about his physical shortcomings. Luckily for the state of Pakistan, he has been in the pink of health, in which he remains even after the setback of the 'restoration' of his chief justice. Confirmation of the setback we saw during the momentous days of March 15 and 16. How CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will cope with the judiciary as it is, packed with party favourites, many of them incompetent and most certainly not 'independent', has to be seen. As recounted in our press last week, Zardari's great defender, the man who has been shot into the Senate as its chairman, the well-coiffed Farooq Naek, as law minister was once caught on television arguing about appointments to the judiciary with members of the People's Lawyers Forum who supported the government's stance against the 'restoration' of Justice Chaudhry. His response to their demands for judicial appointments: "There are so many compulsions. We have to accommodate so many other people in order to run the government." Is there a government? The writer is a freelance columnist