55 years ago in August, inspired by Fazal Mahmood, the infant nation of Pakistan stamped its presence on the world stage by trouncing arguably the mightiest English cricket team of the 20th century, at the historic Oval ground in the heart of London. 55 years after in late August, London was again abuzz with the fate of the nearly 130-year-old Ashes contest between England and Australia hanging in the balance, in the decisive encounter at the Oval where this scribe was invited to attend. Hovering over the Ashes contest was another over-riding concern: Afghanistan. England's victory at the decisive match at the Oval by which it regained the Ashes was quite clear-cut. British victory in Afghanistan, however, appears less clear-cut. The spectre of C-130 Hercules transport aircraft of the Royal Air Force flying into the air base at Wiltshire, England, carrying the bodies of fallen soldiers from Afghanistan has traumatised Britons. It has eroded public spirit and support. The government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown has palpably failed to muster the unity of effort necessary to maintain public morale. The dwindling support may be a signpost to the ouster of the ruling Labour Party and its replacement by a Tory government in the next elections. Brown is bearing the brunt of the pent-up frustration and anger against Blair. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is now much reviled and is seen as an untruthful figure who showed too much zeal in joining the Bush bandwagon on Iraq and Afghanistan. Although a lot of Blair's actions were necessitated by the imperatives of the Anglo-American alliance, there is a widespread sense in Britain that Blair, being the inheritor of a seasoned colonial power, could have exercised a more sobering influence instead of letting Britain be made subservient to neo-con agendas across the Atlantic. One side-effect of rising British casualties - amplified because of its relatively small populace - is a sharpening of anti-American sentiments. America is being blamed for dragging Britain into conflicts and choices which have made UK target a magnet for terror attacks. At the Oval, a senior British politician inquired how to move forward with a view to seek a way out of the quagmire. The response of this scribe was, unless the Anglo-American establishment re-sets its policy and honestly strives to review and relieve the occupation situations in Palestine and Kashmir et al., Western-Muslim tensions are unlikely to subside. The gentleman concurred. It is nevertheless a daunting task. But it is less dire than the alternative of slipping and sliding into the abyss of endless conflict. Britain's sense of limbo and uncertainty over Afghanistan is not without some justification. The commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has just compiled a report on the US Afghan strategy which concludes that the current strategy is not working. Not to be left behind, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, issued a blistering critique of US public relations policy in the Muslim world, published in a military journal, The Joint Force Quarterly. He concludes that America will not be judged by how its actions are communicated but by "what our actions communicate." In light of the above, if Britain does not right its own actions, the joy of the Ashes victory may be overshadowed by the ashes of despair in Afghanistan. The writer is an advocate and a senior political analyst