Preamble: "Moving from how to get elected to how to lead is not easy..." The Tale: In April 1956, Nikita Khrushchev, the then Soviet Premier, on a state visit to Britain, went for a stroll in the streets of London, refusing the normal diplomatic and protocol fanfare. Suddenly, Khrushchev tuned around and asked his accompanying British host, "Where are the bread factories in this town?" The bemused and bewildered host, unfamiliar with a foreign premier strolling alone in the streets, neither answered the question nor understood its significance coming from a revolutionary leader. The insinuation of the Soviet premier was as follows: Is every citizen of your country fed regularly on a daily basis? Does the state provide basic staple food to everyone as a state policy? Is the state responsible that no one, absolutely no one, starves, begs or sleeps hungry in your country? That was the time when humanitarian ideals and comprehensive public welfare notions were being conceived and integrated in the annals of revolutionary political history (socialism) as fundamentals of an entire state policy, including foreign policy. The Tragedy: Around the same time (mid 50s) Pakistan, violating the sacred tenants of the Non-Aligned Movement initiated by the newly independent nations and rejecting the ideals of an emerging humanitarian consciousness in the context of wholesome public welfare, became mesmerised in the love affair of acquiring military prowess and married itself to the US " where the capitalistic ideologues and demagogues were preparing the groundwork for a massive plan of an American empire to politically, militarily and economically dominate the world. The Reality: Today, Pakistan is still a 60-year old abused bride, or rather, a battered house-maid in an unbroken one-sided relationship to this brutish monster, currently called Bush's America. Tragedies on account of this unholy marriage (alliance) have befallen this nation one after another. Look at the latest tragedy that has besieged this nation: it is incredible and inexplicable the way the democratically elected leadership in Islamabad is behaving. It has far exceeded Musharraf's military concessions to the US and has ceded this country's sovereignty to American demands. Pakistani citizens are being slaughtered in FATA and Swat. We are killing ourselves. What else could be more tragic and "dehumanising" to the very concept of our nationhood... On another level, imagine the public's plight that roti has been sold at Rs 20 a piece in Pakistan. Woe for the beaten and the starved. The Conflict Management: The nucleus of our problematics is fundamentally imbedded in our foreign policy affirmations and in our continued relationship (erroneously called "our friendship") with the US. The Diagnosis: With due respect to Hussain Haqqani, a friend-in-intellect, a co-academic, a co-journalist, now Pakistan's ambassador in Washington and, as we know for a fact, the de-facto architect of Pakistan's contemporary foreign policy, Pakistan's US-tilted foreign policy is on the wrong track. Let me help you steer it to the right direction. The Perception: Paul Richter of the Los Angeles Times claims, "As ambassador, Haqqani's top assignments include helping Pakistani officials understand the US and communicate with Americans " he has cultivated a taste for American things, including the Boston Red Sox and Larry King Live..." Well, the ambassador may have a liking for baseball and Larry King, but that is hardly a qualification for "understanding America." In fact, what it amounts to is being "Americanised" " and this is precisely what poses threats to Pakistan's interests. Pakistan cannot afford to conduct a foreign policy with a telescopic view of conducting it exclusively on America's own terms. The Misperception: Let us start with a fundamental error in our understanding of the American psyche. To begin, we have intellectually misunderstood our relationship with the US in the socio-linguistic context of the word "friendship." The term "friends" has an altogether different meaning between the two cultures and we are worlds apart in its usage. In America, a "friendship" can be a transitory, temporary matter, reciprocal in nature (I bought you dinner, you must buy me one). Whenever a mutual "need" is unfulfilled or the "reciprocity" terminated for whatever circumstantial reasons, the friendship stands annulled. In the Pakistani socio-linguistic context, a "friendship" is a permanent state beyond the parameters of "essential reciprocity" and rooted in the emotional notion of "selflessness" and infinite timelessness " friendships have been known to transcend and survive generations in this Eastern culture. It is precisely for this reason that America, with its idea of essential "reciprocity," demands that Pakistan do its bidding (whatever it takes) in exchange for receiving billions of dollars. On the other hand, common Pakistanis feel betrayed in the "special friendship" because they are subjected to demands that they consider beyond the moral, ethical and sentimental scope of a mutual friendship. Ambassador Haqqani would be well advised to understand that there is absolutely no way that these contradictory views can be reconciled. On an intellectual level, the US cannot be understood " it can only be obliged. Pakistan can only remain subservient to this imperialistic power. The Ailment: The US is altogether on a different wavelength from the rest of the world in its global political conduct, on the basis of its historical unilateralism. Let us briefly review some of its recent past foreign policy concepts: President Clinton's doctrine that the US has the right to use military force to defend vital interests such as "ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources" was simply an affirmation and extension of the "... standard principles formulated by high-level US planners during World War II, which offered the prospect of global dominance....In the post-war world, they (US planners) determined that the US should aim "to hold unquestioned power..." (Chomsky). Successive US administrations since the 50s have been engaged relentlessly in pursuit of this objective. The epitome of this goal has come with the Bush Doctrine, "which preached " and practiced " the unilateral use of military force, preemptively...to shape the world to American (and Israeli) desires." (Patrick Seale) The Point: The point driven here is that no matter who occupies the White House in January, 2009, it is not likely that the American foreign policy of global dominance will cease. In fact, considering the Wall Street financial collapse, the chances are that the American military thrust towards Central Asia is going to accelerate at an unprecedented speed (to recover its losses by capturing resources in CAS). What it means in operational terms is that the US will seek a larger military presence and an extension and expansion of present military bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is an illusion that the war in Afghanistan will somehow end with a new president in the White House " unless Pakistan takes strong and imaginative strategic steps and skilful diplomatic initiatives to put an end to American aggression in Afghanistan and disengage itself from the US's War On Terror. Conciliatory approach to the US is a recipe for disaster for the future of the country. Proposal 1: Given the present ground realities, what Pakistan has to do now is to liberate itself from the American confrontational approach to global politics. In order to survive as a nation (it has an existential threat now) in these volatile times, Pakistan must make strategic transformations and focus on cementing its economic as well as foreign policy with China in the East and convert its historical enmity with Russia in the North to an ideological embrace. For this purpose, Pakistan must integrate its foreign policy objectives with domestic economic enhancement and elevate public welfare to its top priority. In this respect, it must make a committed political investment in learning from the Chinese-Russian models of socialist planning and enact necessary changes in its economic structure. Proposal 2: Putin's Russia in the North offers renewed prospects to put an end to the unipolar world of American military unilateralism and with Pakistani diplomatic efforts will certainly turn out to be a help in resolving Pakistan's internal crisis of the so-called War On Terror. The fact is that Russia can be a formidable partner, both to Pakistani Pashtuns and their Afghani brethren, in ending the military conflict in Afghanistan and getting the country rid of US-NATO occupation forces. Peace in Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan will come only when the West's occupation ends. Pakistan should capitalise on this opportunity to draw Russia into the quest for a peaceful resolution of terrorism and the Afghan War. Proposal 3: China offers Pakistan (and the world at large) even a more profound and ideological transformation beyond the aspects of strategic and tactical gains " what China offers is a philosophical perspective on global politics compatible with a 21st century peaceful world " a view that ought to be the guiding principle in a democratic Pakistan. The Treatise: Nathan Gardels has written that Zheng Bijian, the author of China's "peaceful rise" doctrine, maintains that "an awakened China had proven the superiority of its way over the grand Western theories of a 'clash of civilisations' and triumph of the West at 'the end of history' through solving the 'riddle of the century' by abruptly lifting hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty and underdevelopment. This success has proven... step by step, like feeling one's way across a shallow river, 'constructing socialism' in tune with local characteristics and rising in peaceful development. This offers the world a third way between the models of conflict or domination that emanate from the Western minds....Nor would the new China 'belittle itself' with dependence on the West but 'act independently with the initiative in our own hands." Herein lies a lesson that should be of vital importance to Pakistani foreign and economic policy makers. Proposal 4: Pakistan's cordial relations with India must be a high priority. But Manmohan Singh's Bharat is in the American orbit now and it will certainly indulge in the "Great Game" of political domination in South-East Asia. Pakistan must maintain a credible nuclear deterrence and a military readiness to keep peace between the two nations. The Kashmiri struggle for self-rule is a sacred obligation that Pakistan must continue to pro-actively support. The Ultimate Proposal: Iran is breaking fresh grounds in constructing a new global political order and balance of power paradigm based on independent foreign policy, national self-respect, and mutual accommodation of national self-interests. No other country can offer Pakistan ideological, cultural, historical, socio-logistic, economic and foreign policy planning compatibility as Iran can. Pakistan's top priority should be to share new global leadership and partnership with Iran and move forward to create a zone of peace and prosperity in this part of the word. The Conclusion: The problem in present-day Pakistan is that its incumbent political leadership in Islamabad not only lacks geo-political vision, it also quite plainly lacks intellectual curiosity to probe new venues of political actions. Untransformed and unreformed foreign policy and domestic planning will bring catastrophic tragedies to Pakistan. The Dream: A Dream is not what you see in sleep. A Dream is the thing which does not let you sleep. Do you have A Dream for Pakistan? Wouldn't you like to see your president take a stroll like a commoner and actually talk to commoners in Mochi Gate, Lahore? Fat chance...though Pakistan is claimed to be a democracy now... The writer is a professor, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert E-mail: hl_mehdi@hotmail.com