This is time of the year that one prays fervently for good things to happen in the future, having faced the disastrous hands dealt in 2008. The Muslim world everywhere, being reviled, and stamped as the new barbarians. Blamed for all the bad in the world. So one can only pray that we see a way out of the evil that is being blamed upon us. The bombing by the Israelis of the wicked Palestinians, who deserved to die - no matter that it took one Israeli death to 300 Arabs-tough - but welcome to the real world. With the firepower the Israelis have, the Arabs are lucky to be around. Pakistan is unfortunate to have lost Mohtarma at a critical time, but Asif Zardari, managed the transition in a remarkably smooth manner, with no major hiccups. Even the matter of the 'will' was not challenged, which could have seriously damaged the leadership. But all factions realised the danger, and avoided the steps that would have led to a major split in the party. Far better to use the opportunity to build a consensus around his own team, and to remove the any dissidents or threats to his position. In every country a change at the top brings about new faces with which the leader is comfortable. That is the way of the world. However, in this time of crisis his relying so heavily on such a large contingent of cronies and then placing them in key positions of government could lead to serious malfunctions, threatening his own position. Far better to pension them off, than to let incompetence create a series of further problems which are not needed. Mr Bhutto's first Cabinet is a case in point, and the overall performance was the best in our 60 years, both domestically, and on the international scene. Today's world is throwing more challenges to the government and these need to be addressed intelligently, for they are multi-dimensional, and would require different strategies. The Mumbai bombing is a case in point which has its tentacles spreading everywhere. Instead of getting sympathy, the belligerent attitude of the Indians has served to unite the factions of the Islamists and non-Islamists, onto one platform. The immediate fallout is the attacks on the supply lines of the US to Afghanistan, and the Pakistani government showing a reluctance to overt support. This may not have been the aim of the Mumbai bombers, but the law of unintended consequences has been aptly proved here. Similarly the Pakistani operations in the northern areas will also suffer the same slowdown, even though it is a completely different theatre. In the north we have a full-blown insurrection, where considerable territory of Pakistan has been overrun by the militants, under the garb of Islam. It is now common knowledge that these 'Islamic' militants from Afghanistan to our northern areas are being encouraged by the Indian Raw agents, members of the Northern Alliance, and of course the Russian Army. The latter would be only too pleased to have a hand in the US discomfiture. The US is already committing large numbers of its troops to Afghanistan, which is precisely part of the Taliban Afghani game plan. The committing of more US forces to a ground battle in an alien terrain, with no known objective. The Taliban know they are fighting an enemy who is on their soil, and would like to eject him. What objective would be offered to the US soldiers other than that they are being fired upon. Surely the logical next question that beggars can answer, Why are we here? Certainly not to prop up a puppet and unpopular president. Would it not be wiser to sit and formulate a financial package to improve the economic conditions of the poor Afghanis, who did have a reasonably comfortable life before the Russian invasion, and after the American anger at Osama being holed up in their wretched terrain. Surely the billions of dollars that are about to be spent on the proposed military push to eliminate the militancy in the region could be better utilised in the improvement of the Pathan/Afghan areas to lift them out of their misery, by giving them a window of economic opportunity. 'It's the economy - stupid' is the principle that is most applicable, and will save not only huge amounts of munitions and money, but precious lives which would be a far more welcome contribution to the world, - not to mention the diffusing of the Islamic threat to the region. The very thought of an Islamic landmass from Afghanistan to and including Peshawar should scare any sane secular society. The writer is a political analyst