As one looks at the chaos around us, both in terms of governance within the country, as well as the non-existent external policy, two conclusions come to mind: In terms of internal chaos, one can simply hope that some democratic change comes about before we descend into total anarchy. However, externally, it is time we formulated a cohesive policy to deal with the threats that are now becoming all too apparent. Of course, since internal and external policies are always interlinked, cohesive action on one front will have its positive fallout on the other. Since we have become practically a vassal state of the US post-9/11, unless we deal with this issue first, there can be little meaningful change on any front - within the country or in our external relations. After all, we are unable to deal with our terrorism threat internally because we are following US diktat and using a military-centric policy which is simply creating more space for militants within the country. The drone attacks, killing more civilians than militants, are one glaring case in point. The free-wheeling access to US covert military and intelligence operatives, both officials and private contractors, is another destab-ilising factor that we seem to be unable or unwilling to check. And now there are the NATO incursions into our territory and targeting of even our military personnel, which shows how servile a state we are living in at present. It is not comforting to know that our military, with its vast capabilities has been frozen into a state of inaction and cannot defend our borders or our citizens. Our elected representatives have been made ineffectual and Parliament totally sidelined when it comes to the US. That is why parliamentary resolutions demanding the end of drone strikes or bringing down of NATO helicopters when they intrude into Pakistan have been ignored by the supposedly democratic government. Instead, it has, along with the military leadership, continued to condone the killing of Pakistanis by US drones. Perhaps, that is why our politicians all seek to curry favour with US diplomats and other functionaries in the hope that another NRO-like dispensation may give them their moment of political glory. Even those who sense the public mood turning ugly against the US seem to feel that without US backing they are destined to remain outside the corridors of power. Even on the economic front, because of IMF diktat and an erroneous policy of getting trapped in their loan trap, we are reducing the bulk of our population into living in darkness, without proper food and diminishing access to state-funded higher education. In the long run, we know where that will leave our future generations. As for our external policy, it is simply not there. We are in a reactive mode: we are reacting to events around us, including the Indian shenanigans and the brave new upsurge of the Kashmiri Intifada - which has once again left our policy makers nonplussed. All this because we have been overwhelmed by an aggressive US agenda for this region which directly undermines our national security interests. For instance, it has compelled us to make all manner of compromises with India on a unilateral basis, including trade access - although that is still being done surreptitiously. But we have also been dragged into giving the US access to Balochistan from where it has been attempting to destabilise the Iranian regime through support for the terrorist group Jundullah. So, one does not have to look too far to see that unless we correct our US policy, we will not be able to bring about the desired change internally or in our external relations. Even more threatening, unless we change course now, we will have lost the battle to retain our nuclear assets because that is where the NATO-US trail is eventually leading to. Only recently, a conservative historian Arthur Herman wrote that if the government was destabilised in Pakistan then US troops would have to move in to save Pakistans nukes It is this mindset that we are battling against and the only way out is to restructure our policies vis--vis the US - which incidentally has increased its military targeting of Pakistanis with 22 drone attacks in September this year alone and increasing CIA-led covert ground operations inside Pakistan. A three-pronged start to redefining our policies is required, plus three immediate actions that would convey a clear message to the nation and the world. First, within the strategy formulation, we need an extensive review of our external policy but one that does not see only the inside of a rubbish bin, as has happened in the past when extensive exercises have been conducted. We need to review our relations with the US and put them on a more even keel with evenly balanced quid pro quos based on issue specific cooperation. We need to realise that US strategic goals differ sharply from our interests. For instance, for Pakistan closer ties with our neighbour Iran and China should be cornerstones of any external policy - but for the US destabilising Iran is a stated policy goal, as is containment of China in this region. Again, while the US sees India as its regional surrogate and the predominant power in this region, Pakistan has serious conflicts with India and needs to balance not bandwagon with this threatening eastern neighbour. In terms of West Asia also (the Middle East for the US and Europe), Pakistan is committed to the rights of the Palestinians. These are just some examples. A policy review is bound to come up with more viable long-term alternatives to allying with the US - including the possibility of communities of power in the neighbourhood with states where commonality of social and cultural links exist and where economic and military potentials are combined to create integrative communities with an underlying economic and military base of power. A first step for a meaningful review of external policy and formulation of viable alternatives is to begin on the assumption that the US is becoming more of a threat and liability for Pakistan than an ally in any sense of the word. Second, in terms of economic policy, we need to rid ourselves of the IMF excess baggage from personnel to policies and formulate indigenously sensitive policies ranging from a rational tax structure to subsidies for education and utilities to taxing agriculture on produce, rather than land holding while declaring it an industry, and so on. If corruption and nepotism is dealt with, the same nation that gives generously in charity will also give its dues in taxes. Third, a strong political accountability system should be brought in place with no immunity for anyone. Here there is already hope that the new judicial independence will move forward in this direction. After all, only when all our leaders are subject to accountability and no one is above the law, rule of law will prevail in the country. As for the three immediate actions: One, an immediate replacement of all key personnel in sensitive posts that have been placed there on US-IMF (in economic matters) command. This would include some politically-appointed diplomats, our Finance Minister and his buddy in the Planning Commission and so on. The names and faces are well known. Two, curtailment of visas granted to US citizens. Under pressure from the US and supposedly our man in Washington, visas are being given with no proper scrutiny and with all normal procedures being abandoned. Nor is this reciprocal since Pakistanis are not being granted any such favours by the US Alongside this, there should be an immediate thinning of US personnel already present on the ground in Pakistan; and, perhaps most critical, an immediate ban on private US security firms and military contractors with those already present given a week to leave the country. Three, putting the Pakistan military on alert in terms of immediately responding to any incursions into Pakistan by any military force - including drones. The time has come to reverse this bizarre cooperative mode, we have put our military into with the US. The Pakistan military needs to defend Pakistanis and Pakistans borders not flirt with US politics that kill our people. The destructive US-dictated path should be abundantly clear to all Pakistanis. The time has come to move on to our indigenously-guided path decisively and without fear. Pakistan and Pakistanis cannot be sacrificed any more before US diktat and at the hands of its minions in this land of ours.