The feud with Afghanistan is dragging on, with backers of the Karzai regime there, but not necessarily of the Afghan people, supporting him not so much against Pakistan, which apparently does not count, as against the ISI. The American support has been announced by none other than the president of the United States himself, who has committed himself to a full investigation into the Kabul blast at the Indian Embassy, of which Pakistan stands accused, and to take up the results with the Pakistani PM when he visits Washington later. This is a good cane to beat Pakistan with, especially since Congress has just taken up a multi-billion aid package for Pakistan, with a recommendation that the aid, which is to be non-military, be repeated. In this era of rising fuel prices, and food crisis, Pakistan needs this foreign exchange. Therefore, the Kabul blasts are proving to be quite a useful lever over Pakistan, even if it had no role in the blasts whatsoever. But what counts is what the Bush Administration lets slip. It does not really matter that, after Iraq, the Bush Administration is not to be trusted with intelligence, so what it says about Pakistan should be taken with a pinch of salt. Bush will have no hesitation in taking this up thoroughly with Yousuf Raza Gilani when he lands in Washington, and even if the intelligence does not show any link with Islamabad, Yousuf Raza will probably buy the theory of ISI involvement, just as easily as he bought, and reproduced, the theory that Al-Qaeda is gathering in the tribal areas, and preparing a strike in America. The peculiar problem presented by Pakistan is that its people are moderate Muslims, yet they prefer the Al-Qaeda style of politics; and they certainly do not want an end to the troubles that America is facing. Yet withal they want this opportunity to be exploited of extracting money from the USA. The people of Pakistan have rightly assessed that the religious parties are closest to Al-Qaeda, but they have no intention of electing them because they do not see them as ruling parties. For that they prefer the PML, nowadays its N version, because they see it as a party and a leader which is adept at getting dollars out of Americans. Mian Nawaz Sharif is seen, unlike the religious parties, as being against the presence of foreign militants in Afghanistan, but of being against the presence there of occupying forces as well. The PPP is thought to be toeing Benazir's pro-American line, but the PPP carries enough support electorally for the Americans to see the PPP as a dream team with Musharraf, whom the Americans see as supportive of an American presence in Afghanistan and in Central Asia as a whole. But Musharraf, though this would be hotly denied by the PML-Q, lacks popular support. That, the Americans presume, would be remedied if Musharraf was to form an alliance with the PPP. The PPP, through its unyielding stand on the judges' issue, has shown its deep devotion to the president, or at least its deepest desire to prevent him facing any embarrassment, but the president has not really responded in kind. The PPP once had a very "forward" policy, which dates back to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's encounters with India over Kashmir while foreign minister. The first support to those who were later leaders of the anti-Soviet mujahideen was given when he was PM, and then the founding of the Taliban is famous. It was carried out by Maj Gen (retd) Naseerullah Babar when he was interior minister Asif Zardari may or may not have the same vision as Bhutto, but he was more familiar with the territory surrounding Pakistan, and he realised better that Pakistan was in a dangerous neighbourhood. The hostility towards the West it had inherited from the British; and to the East, the hostility was created by its very existence. The PPP, which had a Sindhi leader, appealed to the Punjab not just in the name of socialism, but also of a very strong foreign policy, which Bhutto did not follow, not with half the country lost and about 90,000 prisoners in Indian hands, not to mention a significant portion of national territory. Like others, Bhutto was spoiled by holding power, but unlike others he did not disappear off the map. The result has been the survival of the PPP as a party, not just as the personal vehicle for some person's politics. During the Zia era, the PPP opposed the war in Afghanistan, though it was a policy that Bhutto would have relished, and that turning somewhat to the left, with a consequent anti-Americanism, was a strand in the PPP as it emerged under Benazir Bhutto. It was that turning that led to the PPP being identified as one of the parties inclined to a resolution of the Kashmir dispute on India's terms, and more peace and harmony between India and Pakistan. Musharraf continued only one of these strands of policy, that with reference to Kashmir and India, because he had to have something to offer the Americans, when it came to contradicting the policy they held dearest, their Afghan policy. The Musharraf regime tried to support the Afghan resistance against foreign occupation, but has come to the position where Pakistan is about to face the very danger the Musharraf government always used as the justification for its surrender: invasion by American troops. The army has been indoctrinated that it cannot fight American troops. In fact, as the actions in NWFP and FATA show, they cannot fight anyone for more than a couple of weeks, except probably fellow countrymen, whom they have successfully ruled for so many decades, not just because they enjoy support but because they are not really opposed, and because they feel that they will get foreign support. They inevitably get that support, because it is an area where something is always happening. E-mail: maniazi@nation.com.pk