Islamabad is like a 'non-family duty station'. Diplomats posted here are well paid but live in constant fear. Several embassies run on skeleton staff, however, some shut down because of the threats received. In addition to a walled diplomatic enclave, the premises occupied by them in other parts of the city are veritable fortresses with high concrete walls around. Islamabad is considered one of the most dangerous capitals in the world. In spite of such dangers, the US embassy is expanding its staff and operations in Pakistan. We do not know the nature of staff and sections being reinforced, but according to the current rumours they are also military and security related. This is in addition to the private contractors to whom several security tasks are outsourced. Blackwater, with a reputation from the killing fields of Iraq, is one such firm operating from Peshawar, Karachi and Islamabad albeit under different names. The ostensible reason for the expansion is the transparent monitoring and management of $7.5 billion US aid inflow over five years. The GOP is not trusted anymore and the Americans will watch closely how their money is spent. The people say the surge in the US embassy is in thousands, including the US marines. But according to the Pakistani foreign minister and the US ambassador the reports are highly 'exaggerated'. Moreover, rumours of the expansion have now been rife in Isloo since Dr Shireen Mazari broke the Blackwater story several weeks ago. This has invoked protests from different political quarters. Embarrassed, the government officials seem unable to speak the truth, conveying an impression as if they have something to hide. As if this was not enough, the Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui was reported to have cautioned the US authorities over the embassy's expansion in the capital. According to the media reports, he said that the Americans would be well advised to "expand the embassy keeping in view the security rules and regulations of Pakistan." The same report also suggested that the ambassador objected to the use of the phrase "AfPak" by the Americans. He said Pakistan was a sovereign country that need not be lumped with Afghanistan under foreign forces' occupation. Indeed it really sounds very strange that one diplomatic mission should be advising another diplomatic mission on how to treat the host country. It could be unprecedented, but Pakistan is considered a fair game. The Chinese embassy later issued a "clarification" to some newspapers, stating in effect that the ambassador had been misquoted. But an editorial published on Sunday in The Nation wrote: "If the expansion were not an unusual activity...Ambassador Lou Zhaohui would not have asked the Americans to keep it in accordance with the security rules and regulations of Pakistan." Supportive of the Chinese objection to "AfPak", the paper suspects "something fishy" going on. As the US drones now routinely attack the tribal area and inflict casualties on the innocent civilians, there are reports about armed Americans from the US embassy roaming in Islamabad. In a couple of instances they have had a brush with the police trying to bully their way through the security checkpoints. These are the tell-tale signs of things to come. We owe this to Pervez Musharraf who is actually responsible for it. Having created this mess over eight long years of misrule, he seems to have retreated to his apartment in Central London. What he has left behind for us to manage is load shedding, food shortage and soaring prices. Why did Musharraf surrender to the US demand in 2001? The Americans are not going to remain in Afghanistan forever; but Musharraf has made Afghanistan a sworn enemy of Pakistan for all times to come. Musharraf's actions are today condemned universally in Pakistan. But here is how Michael Scheuer, a CIA veteran, comments: "...the truth is that virtually none of the many things that Musharraf has done to assist the United States in Afghanistan have been in Pakistan's national interest. Indeed, by supporting the installation of Karzai's pro-India, minimally Pashtun regime, Musharraf weakened security on his country's western border, and by sending the Pakistani Army into the Pashtun regions...brought his country to the brink of civil war...History will show, I believe, that America has seldom if ever had an ally more willing than President Musharraf's Pakistan to take actions to further US interests, actions that in no way served its own..." The writer is a former ambassador at large