The sole depressing factor when watching the January 20 inauguration of the 44th President of the USA was, as a citizen of this dysfunctional flailing republic, drawing comparisons with democracy as it works over there and as it does not work here. It is becoming clearer by the day that Pakistan is being run by a bunch of delinquents who are totally clueless as to any mode of governance, or any behaviour that is in keeping with democratic or any other standards. A reading of the national press on December 16 brought this clearly and decisively home, and infuriatingly so. What happens in the body occasionally dubbed 'august' which is the National Assembly of Pakistan, housing those who have been brought in to legislate and govern by a largely illiterate mass who are easily swayed and more easily cowed? As reported by an experienced and well regarded member of the journalist community so outrageous was the conduct of the leading lights of the treasury benches during the Question Hour that the unfortunate deputy speaker at one stage told them all that "the house has become a joke." That is indeed confirmation of what we all suspected. "...he witnessed open disrespect to the chair by a number of PPP ministers standing in groups chatting on the floor...ministers like Rehman Malik, Sherry Rahman, Naveed Qamar, Qamar Saman Kaira and others sitting in the front rows of the house started laughing loudly and chatting..." One Khurshid Shah was apparently "roaming...cracking jokes and laughing loudly." The equally unfortunate prime minister, nominated to the post because he is what is he, was unable to bring order to the proceedings and he and the deputy speaker were ultimately rendered helpless and speechless. This is disgusting, particularly as some of those named should know better - perhaps they do but they but they couldn't care the proverbial damn, a shameless lot. They will continue on their merry way undaunted and unrepentant. That same day brought a story on the creation of new departments in that most pernicious of ministries, one of the many ministries that should not exist, the Ministry of Information. The prime minister mistakenly believes that the Information Ministry is "the nerve centre of the government." Well, it is not and it never has been. It is a ministry that has over the years done irreparable harm to the country and its leadership, and it is totally irrelevant to governance. It is a mine of mis- and disinformation and in one case was largely responsible for the demise of a regime, that of Ayub Khan. The functioning of this ministry, as described by the minister is all to do with controlling the media and in particular the galloping number of private channels and cable operators which has "seriously challenged the ministry's efficiency." The info-minister wishes to revamp the ministry on modern lines and the prime minister wants to bring it to a par with "similar bodies in the world," neither of them presumably knowing that democracies do not have information ministries. They are outdated and outmoded - democratically they died with the ending of WW2. The main function of the info-min in Pakistan has for years been the employment of 'article writers' to chip in and respond to columns critical of the government. These paid pen-pushers could be one man or many men writing under the same pseudonym. This practice continues under the watch of the present minister, who in a previous existence was a member of the journalist community and must well know the quirky workings of the ministry she now heads. A little story about how facts can be conveniently and quaintly camouflaged, though our info-min spongers financed by increasingly furious taxpayers' have not one iota of the skill of American spin weavers, nor do they possess the necessary sense of humour, the dour lot that they are. The incoming US secretary of state had a great-great uncle, Remus Rodham, a horse thief and a train robber. He was sent to Montana Territorial Prison in 1885, escaped in 1887, caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889. A story has it that at some point in her career Hillary Clinton's staff issued the following biographical sketch: "Remus Rodham was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed. Afterthought: A goodly number of media commentators, and possibly some in government and in opposition, are bound to be unhappy, with noses put out of joint, at the contents of a Financial Times report of January 19 which listed the "Fifty heavy lifters" in Washington under the Barack Obama dispensation. They are broken down into 14 categories, one of which is "The diplomats." In this category two names are listed, one is Segey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, and the second is Husain Haqqani. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: