America is electing its new president. It has done so every four years. No doubt, the whole world is holding its breath this time because the incumbent US president, George W Bush in his eight years has played havoc with the world. Everyone looks at Barack Obama's candidacy with hope for change in America's global policies and behaviour and for peace in the world. In Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, there is a well-placed new mood altogether on the prospect of impending change in Washington's White House. If the people of the world were part of the US electorate, they would also have voted for Obama, not because he is black or because he is the child of a Kenyan immigrant, but because he has the promise of being a better president who will change his predecessor's policies and global roguery. Almost 75 percent Europeans in latest polls conducted by newspapers and television networks have said they would like to see Obama elected on November 4. The mood in America is no different where the people are fed up with the belligerent Bush era. This is all understandable. What puzzles in this whole scenario is an exceptionally self-adherent mood in Pakistan. Never before in our history has there been so much interest, if not enthusiasm, in the outcome of a presidential election. We are witnessing an unprecedented media hype focusing on the election as if we are electing our own president. In fact, we did not see this much focused interest in our own president's election in August, the first genuinely democratic election in ten years, and the only one after a long spell of an autocratic rule. Every television channel is devoting hours of talk shows and commentaries on this US presidential election. Our newspapers are full of news, reports and analyses on the likely polices of the Democratic and Republican candidates. One felt embarrassed being part of this media hype, but apparently our people have also been hooked on this mega event of the century which the whole world expects would bring them peace and harmony. Indeed our world has never been so chaotic, and so violent. Poverty, hunger and disease remain world's biggest challenge. Economic adventurism of the 19th century is back in the form of new unipolarity. Might seen wrong by all has never been claimed so right. Humanity finds itself divided on economic and religious lines. Global development agenda has been set aside, if not shelved. Internationally agreed development goals and commitments have been overtaken by new priorities driven by overbearing global security agenda. The post-9/11 world has witnessed unprecedented erosion in the role, authority and credibility of the UN. Today, the UN is no longer the sole meaningful arbiter on issues of global relevance and importance. Global peace remains as elusive as ever. Injustice and oppression remain unabated. Besides inter-state conflicts, the recent years have also seen intra-state implosions, involving terrible human suffering and dislocation. Iraq is still burning. Afghanistan is far from breathing peace. Palestine has given up. And Kashmir stands disillusioned. What then makes us so much excited about the American presidential election this time? Why are our people emotionally involved in the ongoing presidential race in Washington? Is it a sense of disillusionment or hope? No one knows. By all accounts and estimations, a new president who is black and who is the first generation immigrant child would be moving into the White House, and making history. Are we associating ourselves with this miracle taking place in America? Emotionally, perhaps yes. The whole world is feeling the same way. It is a barrier cross. No black has ever been elected to this office in American history. Obama also promises change that has eluded his country for so long. He promises a new America for the Americans as well as for the world, an America which would be at peace with itself and with the rest of the world. But what every one is anxious to know is what will the change in Washington's White House incumbency mean for Pakistan. Will the Obama-Biden administration rescue Pakistan? Will the Democratic administration be better for Pakistan than the one headed by Senator John McCain? Whether we like it or not, on Afghanistan and Pakistan, there will be no change in the policy focus of McCain or Obama. Both are committed to fighting the roots of terrorism in Pakistan's tribal areas. Terrorism is an issue above party lines in Washington and evokes equal concern in the US over the aggravating situation in Afghanistan and on Pakistan's crucial role in this war. If anything, one may expect the Democrats to bring greater pressure on Pakistan to continue "to do more" in fighting the Taliban. They are however as a matter of policy averse to military operations and would prefer diplomatic engagement with Pakistan while letting military operations in its tribal to be carried out by Pakistan itself. According to a bi-partisan Pakistan Policy Working Group report last month, Pakistan might be the "single greatest challenge" facing the next American President. "The sixth most populous country in the world is suffering its greatest internal crises since partition, with security, economic, and political interests in the balance," the report observed. The US cannot afford to see Pakistan fail, nor can it ignore the extremists operating in Pakistan's tribal areas. Washington will have to "rethink its entire approach to Pakistan," said the report. The new approach will be guided by the bipartisan U.S. aid package introduced in the Senate this July by Democratic Senator Joe Biden and Republican Senator Richard Lugar, which calls for $1.5 billion per year in non-military spending to support economic development in Pakistan. Obama's running mate Joe Biden is essentially the architect of this approach which seeks to move from a transactional relationship - the exchange of aid for services - to the normal, functional relationship with Pakistan. This plan would fundamentally and positively shift the dynamics between the U.S. and Pakistan. Here's how Joe Biden described the four elements of his strategy: First, triple non-security aid, to $1.5 billion annually for at least a decade. This aid would be unconditioned pledge to the Pakistani people. Instead of funding military hardware, it would build schools, clinics, and roads. Second, security aid will be performance-based. It will be linked to clear results. The US is now spending well over $1 billion annually, but it's not clear it is getting its money's worth. The US will spend more if it get better returns - and less if it doesn't. Third, help Pakistan enjoy a "democracy dividend." The first year of democratic rule should bring an additional $1 billion - above the $1.5 billion non-security aid baseline. And the future non-security aid will be again, above the guaranteed baseline subject to Pakistan's progress in developing democratic institutions and meeting good-governance norms. Fourth, engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers. This will involve everything from improved public diplomacy and educational exchanges to high impact projects that actually change people's lives. This package seems to be gaining support in the US Congress and other policy-influencing forums. The Pakistan Policy Working Group also endorsed this plan but insisted that "such assistance must be performance-based, and must be accompanied by rigorous oversight and accountability." The era of the blank checks is over, the report said while also recommending favourable US market access for Pakistani textiles and for products produced in tribal regions on the Afghan-Pakistan border. This signals the future direction of US policy towards Pakistan. The next US president will have to "mix deft diplomacy, security support and economic aid" to help Islamabad meet the challenge of extremist threat. Obama's approach will more likely be one of supporting the democratic forces in Pakistan. He might also show greater sensitivity and deference to Pakistan's parliamentary decisions and resolutions on its effective role in the campaign against terrorism. In the ultimate analysis, the US-Pakistan relations will stand or fall depending on whether they benefit the people of Pakistan or any particular regime or ruler. It is an important relationship and must now be based on mutuality. With a new Democratic administration in Washington and a civilian democratic government in Islamabad, both sides need to engage constructively to strengthen this relationship by making it more substantive and more meaningful through greater political, economic and strategic content. The writer is a former foreign secretary