Alexander Pope, who is regarded as the greatest English poet of the 18th century, wrote: "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." This dictum has been proved correct by the welter of rapid and confusing statements made in Pakistan about Ajmal Kasab. The repercussions of National Security Adviser Maj-Gen (retd) Mehmud Ali Durrani's statement regarding Ajmal Kasab's nationality, once again, demonstrated the lack of unity and cohesion within the Pakistan government. The whirlwind of confirmations and refutations that followed from various ministries culminated in Durrani's dismissal which was announced with indecent haste through a private television channel. Kasab's Pakistani nationality need not necessarily be a source of embarrassment for the nation. In no way does it imply that Pakistan is a sponsor of terrorism. After all, terrorists have emerged from various countries for which the latter are certainly not culpable. The Kasab affair could, on the contrary, present an opportunity to Pakistan to demonstrate to the world, yet again, about its determination to eradicate terrorism and control whatever transpires within its borders by clamping down on so-called non-state actors. The present fiasco, however, has unfortunately resulted in the opposite. It has sharply brought the government's ineptitude and lack of coordination into focus. The motive behind the dismissed national security adviser's unauthorised announcement about Kasab is incomprehensible. The statements that followed led some commentators to believe that the prime minister himself intended to disclose the same information at an appropriate forum after the evidence had been minutely examined. If handled deftly, such an admission, the first of its kind from Pakistan, would have had a positive impact on world opinion. The announcement should certainly not have come from a national security adviser and that too without the approval of the head of government. If Durrani had another agenda at the cost of national interest, it provides ample reason for his removal. However, the manner in which he was dismissed was woefully inappropriate. The PM's announcement of his decision through the electronic media was, to say the least, contrary to established norms. The haste in publicising the dismissal has generated the impression that it was prompted by the fear that the decision might be overturned. At other levels it is being seen as the first sign that the prime minister is earnest to regain his authority as 'chief executive' as stipulated by the constitution. Whatever the intentions, the disconnect among the policy makers has adversely impacted on the image of the country where state policies seem to be conducted through television and SMS. The Ajmal Kasab issue has international ramifications and, therefore, the foreign office should have been consulted. However, it seems to have been kept out of the loop. As a consequence, ill-thought-out and contradictory statements were made to the detriment of the government's credibility. Consequently, instead of accepting the reality that for the first time in 60 years both India and Pakistan have a common enemy in the shape of terrorism which requires collaboration and joint efforts, India is back on the offensive. New Delhi has reverted to the stance of "all options are open," regarding their response to the Mumbai attacks and their "surgical strike" lobbyists are using the incompetence of the Pakistan government to further their cause. The international community has been receptive to the irrational and absurdly aggressive propaganda broadside unleashed by India towards Pakistan. This is because New Delhi's approach is coordinated and synchronised compared to the haphazard signals emanating from Islamabad. Pakistan cannot afford the luxury of such incompetence. Inflation, economic stagnation, poverty, food and power shortages, a dilapidated education and healthcare system, extremism, the War On Terror and new threats from India are some of the daunting hurdles that the government has to face. The people of Pakistan, the real victims of these problems, had faith in the democratic system. They voted for change last year and expected the new dispensation to alleviate their socio-economic misery. Yet, nothing of any consequence has been achieved. It has been nearly a year since the government has been in place yet a sense of drift continues to prevail amid uncertainty as to whether or not the prime minister is the chief executive. Till this is sorted out, a sense of direction will continue to elude the country. Although the 1973 constitution provided for a system of government it has, since then, been mutilated and distorted by successive governments for no higher motive than to perpetuate themselves in power. What remains of this basic law has, yet again, fallen victim to egocentricity and personal agendas. Despite repeated promises nothing has been done to rescind the 17th amendment. The prime minister's authority as the head of state has been undermined on more than one occasion. The tussle between the presidency and the prime minister over executive powers has left the bloated cabinet in disarray. Consequently, the nation suffers as the administration dithers over critical socio-economic issues which are only being aggravated due to neglect. The writer is the editor-in-chief of Criterion Quarterly E-mail: mushfiq.murshed@gmail.com