The Mumbai massacres have brought into sharp focus the dangers prevailing in the region, and how soft the whole of the subcontinent really is to an attack from a group of dedicated terrorists. While the US and Indian intelligence failed to coordinate their data on the impending attack, allowing such high casualties, the world and indeed Pakistanis watched the drama unfold in real-time courtesy the myriad TV channels now in place. The Pakistanis were watching and waiting for the accusations that were sure to follow. Sure enough with bated breath we saw the 'evidence' trotted out but fortunately the Pakistanis were not involved. However the entire episode has served to confront the world, and now our neighbours, as to the monster that threatens the people of Pakistan and now India. The US was already facing this enemy in Afghanistan, and knew the capability of the militants. In Pakistan, our government had been in a state of denial, thinking that we were inured to the creeping Talibanisation of our northern areas. The garb of a religious tone served to silence the people lest they be declared heretics by the militants from their spokesmen using the pulpits of the compliant imams. For this was and is still the biggest communication nervous system used by the militants so successfully. Mullah Fazlullah aka Mullah FM has managed to take control of Swat, until now a peaceful State, by spouting venomous diatribes against non-believers (according to him). He followed this up with a band of his hoodlums who terrorised the locals into conforming to his personal brand of Islam. Coupled with a weak and sometimes cooperative government in the Centre, the militancy spread into the state institutions, thanks to a Ziaul Haq legacy which saw his son Ijazul Haq supporting the Lal Masjid clerics in taking on the federal government by building the Mosque on land belonging to the State, and in defiance of the government. While the religious parties continue to spread their influence and their control to the settled areas, like Peshawar using their tactics of a mix of terror and religion. The stage is being set for a grand showdown between the political parties of the religious right and of democracy. In this Mumbai Massacre one can see the hand of the many shadowy groups now going international, having been fought to a standstill in Afghanistan by the US and the Allied command. It was a question of when and not if, of time, before the militants moved South. The Americans have realised the relentless march of the militants, and were already despairing of the Musharraf double-speak, and the cry of 'do more', was the US despair at the obvious disparity between the Musharraf command and the non-obedience by the chain of command. With General Kayani in control of the army, and Zardari as president, they have realised that the danger to Pakistan is not from any foreign enemy, but the terrorist that lies within our borders, and preaches violence towards his own country. It was indeed shocking that the right wing parties managed to gloat over the Indian anguish during the Mumbai massacre, while the rest of Pakistan mourned along with our Indian neighbours. President Zardari has appeared at the scene at a very difficult time for Pakistan, but may just be the right man, for he has no fear, certainly not of the mullahs, who he has already seen and negotiated with over many gallons of diesel oil. The two were mutually supportive over a long time, a fact that Zardari will surely use to the country's benefit. The new president is learning fast, and by appearing on the Larry King Live show has shown that he already knows his way around the media intricacies. He could be Pakistan's best (and only) bet for the time. The Indians must now seize this moment as an opportunity to join Zardari as a bulwark against the common enemy. The battle will not be easy for the likes of Qazi Husain Ahmad of the Jamaat Islami, and of course General Hamid Gul, have already started their venemous tirades against the government. Military and the civilian leaderships have realised that the militants are a bigger threat to the very existence of Pakistan than any external aggression. The sooner such elements are exposed, along with their supporters, and the instituting of laws to make the use of the Mosques for the broadcasting of hate-filled speeches illegal, the better. Anything less is taken as a sign of weakness. The writer is a political analyst