In his second address to the joint session of the National Assembly and the Senate on March 28, President Asif Ali Zardari reiterated the hackneyed slogan that Pakistan would not countenance the violation of its sovereignty. The reference obviously was to US drone attacks in the tribal areas which have been taking place since early 2004 when the Taliban commander, Neak Muhammad, and several of his men were killed. Such posturing only undermines the credibility of the government even further. The chairperson of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, has stated publicly that some of the drones takeoff from airbases in Pakistan and this is obviously with the approval of the government. The unpleasant truth is that Pakistan is no longer in control of the areas where drone attacks occur and, furthermore, it cannot be denied that the purpose of such strikes is to eliminate those very terrorists who have, in the words of the US president, "killed several thousand Pakistanis, including soldiers and policemen, assassinated Benazir Bhutto, blown up buildings, derailed foreign investment and threatened the stability of the state." However, this is only one side of the picture because the fallout of drone strikes is negative. Besides collateral damage notably in civilian casualties, even though this is far less than the number of people who die as a result of terrorist violence, the backlash of drone attacks is that they provide the Taliban a recruitment windfall. Furthermore the attacks push the militants into the major cities where terrorist-related slaughter has become a nightmare which recurs with alarming frequency. The warlord, Baitullah Mehsud, has threatened two suicide bombings every week. Till such time that the government reclaims its writ in the areas under the control of the militants, drone attacks will not be terminated. Ironically, the resolve proclaimed at the highest level to safeguard the country's sovereignty was contradicted by the National Assembly itself, when, on April 13, 2007, it passed a resolution advising President Zardari to sign the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation which he did the same day, thereby, handing over a piece of Pakistan to a group of semi-literate clerics and militants. In Tokyo, the president defended his decision to authorise the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation, by stating that it did not signify the imposition of Shariah. It is disappointing that Pakistan's democratically elected leaders are incapable of understanding the sentiments of their own people. The imposition of Shariah is not an issue for the opponents of the accord but they feel strongly that a deal was signed with those who unleashed a reign of terror in Swat. These militants have been responsible for suicide bombings, acts of vandalism, flogging of women, blowing up girl's schools and beheading those who oppose them. According to Maulana Sufi Muhammad, those who perpetrated these crimes stand indemnified and cannot be brought before the Qazi courts. This is a glaring travesty of justice. The ANP-led government in the NWFP seems to believe that the accord it has negotiated with Sufi Muhammad will result in sustainable peace and stability. On the contrary, this deal is being perceived as the capitulation of the government and the annexation of Swat by extremist militants which has further emboldened the latter and provided them an opportunity to reorganise, renew recruiting efforts and expand their operations to adjoining districts. The Taliban commander, Mullah Nazeer Ahmed declared on April 8: "The day is not far when Islamabad will be in the hands of the mujahideen." Reports emanating from the Buner District, which is a mere 100 kilometres from the capital, indicate that a Swat-like Talibanisation process has commenced there. Announcements through loudspeakers are encouraging youngsters in the area to get jihadi training. It has also been reported that the recent suicide attack in Charsadda District which resulted in at least 18 casualties was planned in the Malakand-Swat area. Pakistan's sovereignty has, undoubtedly, been compromised, despite declarations to the contrary made at the highest level. Rhetoric can no longer obscure reality. Former British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, defined such a state as being unable to: (a) control its territory and guarantee security to its citizens, (b) maintain the rule of law, promote human rights and provide effective governance, and (c) foster economic growth and provide education, healthcare and other amenities to its citizens. The ground realities in Pakistan have an uncanny resemblance to this state of affairs. Unfortunately, the few that can make a difference are too engrossed in playing power politics and furthering their personal agendas to realise the gravity of the situation which is only deteriorating on a daily basis due to their inaction. The writer is an editor-in-chief of Criterion Quarterly E-mail: mushfiq.murshed@gmail.com