The question of who is in charge of Pakistan — the civil administration or the army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — is one that has infuriated most Pakistani leaders and officials. But it is a valid one, given that the Interior Minister Rehman Malik's assurance to Home Minister P Chidambaram, on voice samples of those accused in the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai has been reversed for flimsy reasons.
Pakistani law, apparently, requires consent for such recordings, something the lawyers of the accused, that include Lashkar-e-Tayyeba's Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, have refused. It is fairly clear from evidence gathered by India and handed over to Pakistan that those whose voice samples have been sought are complicit in the attacks.
Pakistan has too long been caught up in some sort of abused spouse syndrome in which the very same people it seeks to shield have visited trauma and devastation on it. The same elements and their followers whom India is seeking to bring to task are never far from the scene when terrifying suicide bombings of the sort that have killed so many people within the country have taken place. In the latest outrage, at least 25 people have been killed in three bomb explosions during a Shia religious procession.
The same people that some parts of the Pakistani ruling structure seeks to protect have caused such mayhem that many in the world have written off the country even when it is going through such an ordeal as the ruinous floods, in which countless have died and millions rendered homeless.
No one believes that a State held hostage by non-State actors can do much to either alleviate the sufferings of its people or try and further the peace process with India.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made an extraordinary concession when he said that he'd seek to pursue peace regardless of reciprocity. This is the kind of olive branch that hostile neighbours can only dream of.
Sadly, Pakistan and whoever is in charge has not been able to respond in any manner to this rare show of statesmanship. Anyone who wants Pakistan to count among the comity of nations must move to sideline the people who seem to decide on life and death issues at will.
It makes eminent sense to cooperate with India to bring the likes of Lakhvi to book. Those hell-bent on jihad quite easily turn on their benefactors as Pakistan has discovered all too painfully.
It is still not too late for Pakistan to stop its slide into complete isolation and irrelevance. But first it must understand that abused spouses, by silence and cover-ups, will only invite more violent retribution upon themselves.