While the world celebrated New Year's Eve with spectacular fireworks display, starting with Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia, followed by other capitals in the world, our roads to the beach were blocked, as usual, by ugly containers. People were advised to stay at home and warned not to celebrate the New Year, not there was anything to celebrate about. And four visitors to the city of lights were gunned down by trigger happy policemen of anti car lifting cell and the people of Gaza mourned their dead. For most of us, 2008 was nothing to cheer about. On the contrary, it was a disastrous year for many, as it was a year of death and destruction and an economic meltdown. Natural disasters killed over 220,000, while 'men-created' deaths and sufferings killed thousands more. The year also saw two high profile targets come under attack, the Marriott in Islamabad and the Taj in Mumbai, which brought out the hawks and the vultures, looking for blood and demanding revenge, even if it meant a nuclear war that would destroy the subcontinent. The economic meltdown, was mainly due to the irresponsible and callous behavior of Ivy League educated, 'non state' political leaders and Presidents, CEOs and board of directors of giant corporations. Their greed and selfish behavior shattered and destroyed more dreams, hopes and homes of ordinary citizens then the terrorist attacks, as they betrayed the trust of their shareholders and used their money for their personal 'perks and mercks' and self gratification at their expense. The end of 2008 also saw celebrations to mark the birth of Jesus Christ and Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father of this nation and the death anniversary of the late Benazir Bhutto, Daughter of the East, whose killers are still at large, even after a year of the terrible tragedy. Mr Asif Zardari has stated that he knows who BB's killers are and he will expose them, while his law minister has contradicted this statement and has stated that the government has invited the UN to investigate the assassination and that it will hold a full inquiry and expose and punish the killers. However, we have heard these repeated assurances so many times in the past fifty years, but as yet, not a single assassin or terrorist has been caught and punished. So now, nobody takes these assurances and promises seriously, especially the Indians and the international community. The end of 2008 also saw the unleashing of another terrorist attack, which has claimed over four hundred lives and maimed thousands of innocent citizens. These attacks were not by extremists or terrorists, but by the Israeli government, with the blessings and approval of Uncle Sam. These tragic and senseless killing of innocent citizens, with no end in sight, have been the root cause for the spread of terrorism through out the world. Each country blames the other for the renewal of hostilities, with Hamas ending the cease-fire agreement and attacking targets in Israel. In retaliation, Israel has unleashed its dogs of war, with ruthless aerial bombings and threats of a ground attack. How long will this deadly chess game will continue or how it will end, is for the experts to work out, but in the meantime, this blood bath, while the world watches in silence, is unacceptable. If we are to be rid of terrorism, then the Palestinian and Kashmir issues have to be settled, failing which, innocent citizens will continue to die. With regards to BB's assassination, the various investigative reports by Dawn TV channel, GEO TV and Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of The News, reveal some alarming and extraordinary facts, which contradict the version that have been presented to the public by the government. According to JIT, "Some of the leads that we have obtained from the entangled evidence, both physical and circumstantial, that leads us to certain important personalities and are highly sensitive, but any disclosures at this stage might cause extremely serious repercussions and would open up a Pandora's Box that would be difficult to handle." What is myth and reality only time will tell, but the fact that no FIR has been lodged by anybody is very alarming. Political observers are puzzled at the PPP's leadership reluctance to trace down or expose BB's assassins, despite AZ's claim that he knows who they are. There are also serious apprehensions in the party and the public of the PPP's failure to fulfil some of its commitments to the nation, which include: 'The failure of the government to implement the Charter of Democracy, restore the sacked judges, repeal the 17th Amendment, stabilise the economy and appoint governors, ministers, and senior government officials on merits, instead on cronyism'. So far, AZ has failed to deliver on these promises, leaving our two major political parties divided at a time when there is a need for unity and a national government, to contain the crisis and the growing threat of Islamic militancy within our borders. They should unite on a single anti-terror platform, which should be portrayed as a struggle to save Pakistan and not to save PPP or America. Even Naheed Khan, BB's loyal confidant for twenty years, has raised some of these questions and has even challenged the authenticity of the so called 'will'. All these apprehensions raise a very serious question, can Mr. Zardari, who has been described as an 'accidental president, thrust onto center stage after BB's assassination in December', handle a nuclear armed Pakistan, which is a crucial ally to the United States in its war against terror and is constantly at logger head with its neighbor, handle all these serious issues? The government is under enormous pressure to improve security and rescue a flailing economy. Foreign investment is down, while food and energy prices are up, with riots in the cities due to frequent power outages and shortage of CNG. At the same time, militancy is on the rise and extremists have taken control of certain parts of NWFP and the restoration of the JC of Pakistan is still in limbo. There is even talk of serious differences between the president and the PM. Our charming Sherry Rehman has rebutted these as 'rumours by mischievous elements', but as they say, there is no smoke without a fire. The recent terrorist attacks on the Marriott and the Taj and the its fall out, have further eroded the government's credibility and created doubts about whether Pakistan will stand or fail as a modern Muslim state. Such incidents give the impression that there is a lack of strong and focused leadership and political unity, which has made people sceptical about AZ as their president. They perceive that he is not an inspirational leader, dedicated to the greater good of the nation and regard him as a political opportunist and a backroom dealer, who lacks maturity and mass appeal. The question that is being raised by many concerned citizens is, will the New Year be 'Out with the old - In with the old' and will it see a new Zardari or the old Zardari of the past? An answer that could change the destiny of this tumultuous nation, its 170 million citizens and have a great impact on the region. E-mail: trust@super.net.pk