My dear Muhammad Ali: 'Fitna' (which spreads 'Fasad') is one of the gravest of sins because it spreads disharmony, discord and disorder and disunites the Muslims. The idea is to strive for the unity of the Muslim Nation. Disunity weakens and opens the floodgates to adventurers, conquerors, and subjugators, colonising not just bodies but minds as well. Now look at us. Pakistan is trapped on many fronts, like in the tentacles of an octopus. Obama's envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard 'The Bulldozer' Holbrooke should know of these tentacles and the perceptions they have created. America blames Pakistan for its lost Afghan war. But killing or capturing Mullah Omar and his Taliban or Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda was not part of the deal. It was America's responsibility. Instead, they have pushed the bulk of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters near or into Pakistan. Now they expect us to do their dirty work for them. If not, we are blamed for "harbouring" and "aiding and abetting" terrorists. America has to realise that it cannot win this war nor can it get a decent withdrawal from Afghanistan without Pakistan. An already bad refugee situation has become worse. Pakistan is host to the largest refugee population in the world - over 4 million, 3 million of whom are Afghans. The rest are leftover Iranians from the Khomeini revolution, Chechens, Bosnians, Indian Muslims who come here on a visitors' visa but don't return, Bangladeshis in search of jobs and food and God knows who else. Now add to that the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda, courtesy America's ineptitude. This causes great economic strain and strains on our polity as well. Having lost the war and dumped all its rubble on us, as usual, the perception here is that America has virtually taken over our government's important decision-making, making it seem helpless. People interpret this as a 'deal' - as long as America can implement its own agenda, including drone attacks on Pakistani territory, the government can do what it will, no questions asked, governance be damned. Actually, governments don't do such silly deals. They take as much as another will let it: give an inch and the other takes a mile. If the response then it is only impotent imploring, they will take miles more. With the advent of Obama it seems that our government's American honeymoon is over. Word is that they are coming to the realisation that foisting western-style electoral democracy on Third World countries leads not to stability but instability. However, the Obama administration seems confused: the president says the "US must ensure that Afghanistan doesn't destabilise Pakistan" whereas Holbrooke accuses Pakistan of destabilising Afghanistan Karzai's honeymoon seems to be over too: they realise that he is the problem, not the solution. Holbrooke calls him a failure and talks of the "massive, officially sanctioned corruption", including drugs. Karzai's brother is accused of being the biggest heroin dealer. But not so fast: 'innocent' America has regularly part-financed wars by covertly encouraging the drugs trade and then accusing its ally of it. The only solution is talk to the Taliban, hold elections in Afghanistan, let the Taliban win if they can and get out of there. A troop surge will only provide the Taliban more targets to practice on. On our southwestern front, as the Pakistan army strangulates extremists in the tribal belt, the Pakistani Taliban move into the settled areas with alarming speed. They control Swat and are applying their own laws there according to their own peculiar interpretation of Islam. It's their way or the highway and woe betide anyone who disagrees. They are declared beyond the pale and deserve to be murdered. Swat lawyers are the latest in the firing line. Though these people are supposed to be Wahabi/Deobandi, they are behaving like Al-Qaeda Takfiris. The root of the word 'Takfir' is 'Kufr', which actually means "one who conceals (the Truth)" but has now come to mean infidel. They blow up boys and girls schools, restrict women to their homes, prevent men from shaving and death to the barber who shaves them. They forbid music and film. A teacher and ex-Mujahid was killed because his shalwar was not above his ankles. They flog, they behead. Now they are moving beyond, threatening bus drivers in Malakand and Mardan not to play music in their vehicles. All this is creating the perception that soon they will take control of the entire province and then Pakistan. Would this not suit America, Israel and the Indians, for a 'justification' would have been created for them to intervene and 'secure' our nuclear assets from falling into extremist hands? People wonder whether the Pakistani Taliban are not actually a creation of this triumvirate to create the 'justification'? The evidence: they are very well armed and equipped and very well funded and some of them aren't even circumcised. ? On our northeastern front our army is bogged down along the Line of Control in Kashmir since 1948. ? In the far north, our army has been in a state of war since 1985 over the Siachen Glacier at a height of some 23,000 feet - the highest and most expensive war in the world that kills more people from frostbite and avalanches than from bombs and bullets. ? On our eastern front India is applying inordinate pressure after the Mumbai attacks. Though the chances of war seem to be receding, if those who wish to see the two countries fighting perpetrate another such act, there will be war. That is what RAND has suggested as a means of getting America out of the recession, because it would grease the wheels of America's military industrial complex which is the engine of the US economy. ? On the southeastern front, Karachi the business capital of Pakistan and its only port city is swarming with extremists of all hues - Kashmiri freedom fighters; Pakistani Taliban; sectarian groups and remnants of Al-Qaeda to name a few. ? On our southwestern front, Balochistan, there is a mini-insurgency financed and equipped and armed by India. Quetta is reputed to be a hotbed of Taliban leaders in hiding. Only the other day a UNHCR official was kidnapped there. ? The country is wracked by Shia-Sunni sectarianism, a result of the Iranian Saudi doctrinaire conflict on our soil that was triggered off by the Iranian revolution. Last Thursday a suicide bomber killed 38 Shias and injured 70 in a religious procession in D G Khan. ? There is a brewing water crisis as India continues to turn the tap off, the real cause of the Kashmir dispute where the sources of all Pakistan's rivers lie. ? If all this were not bad enough, Pakistan too is in the throes of a terrible economic downturn that the country's economic managers don't seem equipped to cope with. The electricity paucity, gas depletion and water shortage, along with usurious interest rates, makes for inflation and recession, not recovery. ? Whilst surprisingly there is no civil unrest on the streets against high food prices, inflation and loss of jobs, the elitist 'lawyers movement' continues to be an instrument in the opposition's hands to destabilise a nascent elected government instead of giving it a chance to finish its term and start consolidating the democratic process. This movement, now two years old, costs a lot of money. Where is it coming from? This is how politicians and civil society pave the way for army intervention. Is that the intention? ? All this, particularly the Lawyers' Movement, is causing institutional anarchy with many lawyers and the party that leads the Punjab government refusing to recognise the Supreme Court as legitimate. They regard the pre-November 3, 2007 Supreme Court as the legitimate one. Over the years, no one really knows what legal system Pakistan operates under. Apart from our Anglo-Saxon law courts, we have the shariat courts, jirga courts and panchayat courts. Now Taliban courts are starting to get introduced. We have also had martial law courts, anti-terrorism courts and banking courts. Sorry if I've forgotten any. What kind of a country is this with so many legal systems? Where do people seek redress? When the system doesn't work people interpret it as democracy not working, not the system as not working. People are confused. They don't believe that an army as huge and professional as ours cannot liberate Swat. Why, they cannot even seem to jam an FM radio station spewing venom and hatred. They think it's because of two things. Either that the army won't act without orders from the civilian, democratically elected government, which is the constitutional thing to do or, because after the Red Mosque episode they are wary of undertaking operations in which civilians will also get killed. They remember how the same people who used to taunt them for being unable to liberate a mosque heaped criticism and scorn on them for killing teachers, students and pious mullahs when they finally did. What, people ask, is the reason that their government seems so aimless and adrift? God enjoined us to choose our leaders from amongst the best. Conversely, the fall of a nation comes after years of deceit in which the truthful person is not believed and the liar is believed and the leaders of the people are from the worst amongst them. This is where the discussion begins and this is where the discussion ends. The writer is a senior political analyst E-mail: