Shireen M Mazari We are told nations get the leaders they deserve so have we really deserved what is being dished out to us especially since 9/11? I suppose to some extent the democratic set up that has come into play now has been the result of the people casting their votes, so why complain now? We may not have selected Musharraf - but the level of euphoria that initially greeted him showed a general welcoming mood prevailing in the country - and certainly our votes brought in the present set of civilians into the Parliament. It is not as if we were unaware of their credentials or lack thereof when we went to cast our votes - after all, most of them were known names, some recycled in new parry flags, some simply returning with the approval of our puppet masters, the US and UK who not only ensured the NRO was afflicted on us to resuscitate lost politicians, but that all the notorious and allegedly corrupt band of men from the bureaucracy and business community were also given official patronage - especially in sensitive positions like Interior and a few choice ambassadorial sanctums. The irony is that despite all these positioning, the US still has been unable to get what it seeks in this region because it has come up against the will of the people who will continue to expose its intent and designs regardless of whom it pushes into positions of power. However, while we can and we do hold players like the US responsible for many ills in our country, we must now begin to hold ourselves primarily responsible for where we are presently - being ruled by the same discredited lot of rulers over and over again. What is our national fascination with continuing to look up to damaged idols and heroes and continuing to accept discredited rulers repeatedly as our leaders? One can never visualise the American public ever accepting Nixon as a presidential candidate even - let alone voting him to the Oval Office - post the Watergate scam. Yet Nixon had many policy achiev-ements to his name, including the opening with China. Our personally discredited rulers do not even have that to recommend them, yet we continue to shy away from seeking honest leaders as we re-elect from the tainted field. Nor is it just in terms of political leadership that we display this bizarre national trait. The malaise is spreading into other areas of public life also, especially sports. Here we have recently seen cricketer Shahid Afridi clearly tamper with the ball on our television screens as has the rest of the world that follows cricket. A while earlier, we had also seen him scruffing the pitch - again an image that was captured on international television. Yet did the public at large react negatively to these actions reflecting a clear case of cheating in old fashioned morality? No. A few murmured criticisms were heard but more on why he chose to do these actions in the glare of the camera than questioning the action itself. And our cricket bureaucracy chose to elevate him to captaincy of the national team for the World Twenty20 while the nation applauded. Or at least accepted this decision quite willingly. Clearly, our national moral fibre is rotting at the core. Obviously we are all becoming rotten to the core or have already achieved that state of moral corruption. That is why our leaders use us and abuse us as they fulfil foreign agendas and laugh of the travails of the common citizen. That is why, despite scandalous exposs and widespread tales of corruption and nepotism, our leaders continue to carry on as before in their nefarious designs - aiding and abetting their comrades into amassing personal fortunes and placing them in lucrative positions despite their past records. The word 'merit or 'competent is more like a term of abuse in this country which is why most youngsters shy away from it early on in their lives, unless they choose to leave and never return. So it should not surprise us to discover that there is a total disregard for the lives of ordinary Pakistanis who are dying either in acts of terror or out of sheer inability to acquire the increasingly costly basic staples of life. Those who escape these two threats, are confronted with untoward accidents that happen because of a lack of maintenance on roads and railways or incompetency on the part of the medical profession or other technical failures. So just surviving today in Pakistan is a miracle. And let us not forget the US drones that rain missiles primarily on innocent Pakistanis living in the bleakness of FATA. Here again, why just blame the US when our government - both this one and the previous one - has sanctioned these attacks despite lies to the contrary that are given out to appease the poor people of Pakistan. It is no wonder then that our militarys PR wing, the ISPR, has no record of its war heroes and has to do an internet search to dig up their pictures and information on their lives - as one Pakistani citizen discovered Perhaps that is also why when the Swat operation was commencing, the DG ISPR had to cite examples of US Vietnam veterans as heroes, although this was a blunder since we know what the US was doing in Vietnam before it scuttled from its embassys rooftop as the Vietnamese people fought and drove them out. But it took a while to get these misplaced tales of heroism off the ISPR website But then what would we know of true heroes today in this land where the corrupt and the tainted rule and the people continue to laud them. No wonder the higher judiciary is having such a tough time getting its decision on the NRO implemented - as one member of this group, that offers the only ray of hope for this nation, commented that Pakistan was probably one of the few countries in the world where the judiciary has to seek the implementation of its decisions by the state Fighting off corruption and nepotism when it has become an intrinsic way of life in this land is no easy task. It is far easier for external powers to manipulate the state and the US has been doing so adeptly since 9/11. But they are only doing what they see is in their national interests. It is our leaders who are unable to see beyond their own survival in power and our people who continue to give them that leeway in the polls. So, in the end, we are all going to be guilty of self-destruction of a most wonderful and resource-rich land that is our Pakistan.