My dear Muhammad Ali: I intend to begin all future articles, regardless of subject, by pointing out at least one injustice that needs the attention of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, for we have been assured that our problems would start getting sorted out with his restoration. This week I intended to point out that the joke is actually a matter of shame for us all that it is cheaper to hire a judge rather than a lawyer. But the CJP has himself taken notice of corruption in the judiciary from the Supreme Court downwards and instructed lawyers to point out any instances to him, regardless. The problem is: how will our mostly inept lawyers now win cases? It's a funny world getting funnier. While important Americans like David Kilcullen are busy predicting the collapse of Pakistan, consequential Russians like Prof. Igor Panarin are busy predicting the collapse of America. Kilcullen is adviser on the war on terror to CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus. Prof Panarin is a respected academic who used to be a KGB analyst who predicted in 1998 that the USA could disintegrate in 2010. We, in the meanwhile, are somnambulant, mired in irrelevance, stuck in the past at the mercy of yesterday's men while America is stuck in acute denial, trying to salvage an economic and financial system that is brain dead and still playing god with the world. Assuming that both predictions come correct, God forbid, the question is: whose collapse will come first. America's collapse is predicted around the middle of next year, ours in the next five or six months. Some would think that if America collapses came first we would be saved. Not necessarily. No doubt the world needs to move on from single hyper-power hegemony. Cut America down to size and see how the world starts mending itself. But America's collapse would first lead to a global economic collapse that would cause untold strife and suffering, to put it mildly. Our collapse would cause an upheaval from Turkey to Burma and change the map of the region. Oil would be jeopardy, as would oil shipping and pipeline routes. Israel, in hysteria, could do anything. It is only decent that we take a look at ourselves first and then the USA next week. If you look at it purely academically, our State of Pakistan is in tatters. Of the three branches (or pillars as we love to call them) of government - legislature, executive and judiciary - not a single one is working. It wasn't always like this. When Pakistan was made we had a world-class judiciary. Our permanent executive, the civil and later the military bureaucracies, were also world-class. It was only the legislature that was weak, for politics fell victim to feudalism and tribalism. It provided a very low-grade political executive that was only interested in fortifying the iniquitous status quo that favours feudal lords and tribal chieftains while keeping the majority of Bengal out of power. It led to army intervention that did no good to the army at all, and that was the least of it. After East Pakistan seceded in 1971 the legislature and political executive remained in the hands of feudal lords and tribal chieftains. They set about reducing the other two pillars to their handmaidens. The result is before us today. There is no delivery. Zilch. It's been one year since the new 'democratically elected' government took office but there has been no legislation worth the name. The executive is adrift and aimless. They blame the past because they have no vision for the future. As to the judiciary, all you have to see is the utter confusion in the Supreme Court. The State is unravelling. No branch or pillar of government is functioning. The anomaly is that while the government is totally and utterly bankrupt the economy is not because of our informal and underground economies. The IMF is back. Foreign debt is growing. Domestic debt is such that the IMF has asked the government to reduce some of its borrowing from the State Bank. The government has borrowed so much from commercial banks that they have no liquidity left to lend to the private sector. There is policy confusion as we keep interests rates usurious thinking that it will control inflation. It will not. All it will do is drive away investment and, in fact, drive inflation up further. Any wonder that manufacturing growth is now negative? The poor are getting desperate. Anarchy is round the corner. The government has surrendered its writ to Pakistani Taliban in Swat and Malakand, to Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the tribal belt and Islamabad to America. The US is calling most of the shots and its interference has grown alarmingly. Its new Afghan policy places Pakistan at the centre. Drone attacks could be extended not only to Balochistan but wherever there are extremists of any ilk, Pakistani or foreign. Considering that extremists of every ilk are everywhere we might find drone attacks everywhere. Our sovereignty lies in tatters. We have lost the ability to tell between right and wrong. Our people have willingly returned to power those they used to beseech God to rid them of in the past. Pardoned convicts and pardoned potential convicts, even if elected, are usurpers as much as generals who lead coups. Our citizens are fast losing their stake in the country. This is the bald truth. It hurts me unspeakably. I'm sure it hurts you as much too. But only when we start facing up to bald truths will we discover that our salvation lies within us, not with any outsider or demagogue. Stop looking for a messiah for the only messiah lives in us the people. We only have to find him. I said last week that a fundamental principle like independence of the judiciary is one of the pillars of a civilised society and is thus indivisible. The same goes for sovereignty and freedom. Let me explain. You cannot have 90 percent freedom. It's as good as having none. Like you cannot be 90 percent free. The fetters on that 10 percent put paid to the concept altogether. To be told that you can do what you like as long as you register with your local police every day and cannot travel without taking their permission means that you are not a freeman, regardless of how much freedom you are allowed to enjoy in your own city. As to the judiciary, its situation is the most confused. No one knows who are the de facto judges and who the de jure. To some it is one set; to others it is another. Thus by saying that one set of judges who took oath under one particular Provisional Constitutional Order are acceptable while another set who took oath under another PCO are not makes no sense whatsoever and only divides the principle of judicial independence. Till March 16 we had only one set of PCO judges. That was bad enough. Now we have two. Tell me: if all PCO judges are undesirable as the Charter of Democracy also says, which is it better to have, one set or two? Another indivisible principle: it is vital that the three branches of government operate separately and independently of one another. But that is made a mockery of in the British parliamentary system when the executive comes out of the legislature and thus, by definition, cannot be separate or independent of it. Neither can the legislature act as an effective check against possible executive excesses, especially when the ruling party has its own majority. The British prime minister then is more powerful than the American president. It may work in Britain, which unlike Pakistan or the USA is a unitary state, not a federation, and which has an unwritten constitution and where the concept of sovereignty is unique. But in a federation, where the federating units (in our case Sindh, Balochistan, the North West Frontier and the Punjab) have willingly and voluntarily given up part of their sovereignty to a centre in order to become a federation, it is vital that such separation and independence exists. That is why I have been waging a veritable Jihad for a presidential system since October 1991 in which the three branches of government are separate and independent of each other and the head of state and government is elected directly by the people on the basis of one-person-one-vote, unlike the USA where there is an anachronistic Electoral College that often vitiates and twists the will of the people, as happened in the 2000 presidential election. Our salvation lies in that alone. The writer is a senior political analyst E-mail: