General Mirza Aslam Beg The Muttahida Qaumi Movements, or MQM, previous decision to break its alliance with the government and sit on the opposition benches in Parliament had brought about a political Tsunami in the national politics, placing a much greater burden of responsibility on the shoulders of the entire political leadership of the country, to face the emerging challenges and steer the country towards calmer waters, where democracy and national interests could find reprieve and redress. Even though the MQM has joined the government on the Treasury benches, but not in the federal Cabinet, yet it is time to test the patriotism and capabilities of the parties leadership in the face of the existing challenges and opportunities. It seems that the PPP is on the defensive and may be willing to change its attitude on the issue of defiance to the judiciary, corruption, failing economy, the burden of IMF conditionalities and the war in Afghanistan. If the ruling party realises the gravity of the situation, then it has to act positively in the larger interest of the country and its own survival. Further, the PML-N has no chance to come into power in case the mid-term elections are held, especially because the US does not want that to happen. I am sure, Nawaz Sharif remembers the American dismay expressed after the 2008 elections by the CIA funded Washington Times: Washingtons Pakistan kibitzers will soon rue the day they squeezed President Pervez Musharraf to restore democracy. Democracy is what has now emerged, or an unholy alliance of long-time American haters.The new behind-the-scenes godfather of this broad based, anti-US coalition is Nawaz Sharif, Chief of the Pakistan Muslim League. This also puts Kayani in a quandary; Musharraf has handed over his military powers, along with a Rubiks Cube. The army is in no mood to oblige it, while the judiciary is no more willing to award the 'law of necessity. Also, the PML-N cannot form an alliance with PML-Q or MQM. So, the only 'easy option is to support the ruling party, to change course for a better governance and shed its obduracy to support the inept and highly corrupt members of its team. As for the 'Q League, it may not opt for mid-term elections. Because in the absence of Musharrafs support, the party may not be able to win even a quarter of the seats it now holds. And, therefore, in its own and the countrys interest, it must support the government to bring about a positive change in national political dynamics. Moreover, MQM knew the compulsions under which it had decided to sit on the opposition benches. Perhaps, it was the Chinese Premiers visit and the geo-political ripples it caused to prompt action to destabilise the sitting government. Certainly, it is not the message for the patriotic generals to intervene, or is it because of serious internal rift between its different factions. However, the opposition that the party now faces from the National Awami Party, Ahal-e-Sunat-Wal-Jamat and the PPP, will be too heavy to withstand. So, the best course open is to support the government, though not in concert with the PML-N and the PML-Q. As for the Awami National Party, it has wisely decided to stand firm with the government, but only for its own sake. However, it is desirable if its support is conditional, seeking attitudinal changes for a better future of the country. Although Maulana Fazalur Rahmans drift is understandable, yet he has to put his shoulders to the wheels, to push the political bandwagon out of the mud, because democracy is at peril and the ominous portents for the country. Nevertheless, Afghanistans occupation by the foreign forces and the brutal war, which has raged for the last 30 years, is the 'mother of all evils. It has caused colossal damage to Pakistans national security interests. The decision to join USAs war on terror in 2001, in particular, has distanced us from the Afghan people. The US and its allies stand defeated and will leave Afghanistan sooner than expected, but not with the grace and dignity of a great civilised nation. The US and its allies have plans to divide Afghanistan and foment a civil war in the war-torn country. Anyway, we as a close neighbour of Afghanistan have to live as friends and need to formulate a strategy to mend the damage done by our past wrong policies and develop friendly relations with their future government. That will be none other than the Taliban - the winners - who alone can bring peace and stability to the country. These are the hard choices that Pakistan has to make, as the collective responsibility of our political leadership, which has been pushed together by sheer compulsions of the circumstances to play their historical role and seize the opportunity to collectively steer the country out of the morass. The challenges: The independence of the judiciary and the rule of law provide the foundation for justice for a free society based on a democratic social order. Despite all claims of change, 'negative forces have been applied to interfere with the norms of justice. Therefore, it is the onerous responsibility of the national leadership to defeat and deter such negative forces, which stand in the way of justice and rule of law. Corruption has become endemic, cutting at the very roots of our social order. Instead of protecting the corrupt, the political leadership has to identify the roots of corruption and correct it ruthlessly, remembering that the fish starts rotting from the head. The debt burden and the IMF conditionalities have made the lives of the common man miserable. Some difficult decisions, therefore, have to be taken to lift the failing national economy. It is futile waiting for the next elections and the party manifesto with high-sounding economic goals to be achieved, since there cannot be better time than what it exits today to take a leap forward. Pakistan is beset with many problems and this is not the time to raise new issues of blasphemy, secularism or religious ideology. The brutal murder of the Governor of Punjab occurred because of lobbies taking place outside Parliament, which is the right forum to discuss and decide on such vital issues. Blasphemy law is not the problem, but its implementation is. The practice of 'regime change of the past is no more valid. The Americans have lost their grip on Pakistans military leadership, as well as its compliant political leadership, to play the game. The judiciary is also independent. What else our political leadership wants for the democratic order to find its roots during this turbulent period, challenging our national security? What better days could there be for our political leadership, to rise and correct the course and bring about the change, congruent to the peoples expectations. This is the reality that demands a collective wisdom to face truth. John Locke very rightly said: It is one thing to show a man that he is all in an error, and another to put him in possession of truth. The writer is a former chief of army staff, Pakistan Email: friendsfoundation@live.co.uk