Muhammad Ijaz ul Haq After 9/11, US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage was blunt when he warned nuclear Pakistan to be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age; flat fell the fearless commando and we were saved. Paradoxically, bombed back to the Stone Age we have been Thanks to the PPP government and several of its bomber squadrons - no petrol, no power, no water, no fuel, no food, no light and no life. Here, millions are jobless and many do not have enough money to buy two square meals for their families. Committing suicide is no more news for us mortals. Abandoning children or putting them on sale is not a story of some distant lands. It reminds me of a moving account of a Russian street child who, near a Christmas tree in search of some charity food, barefooted and shirtless, shaking and shivering in the numbing cold, was frozen to death before he could have his morsel. Unfortunately, the fate of our children seems no different. Some years back, like many other nations, we were a poor country. Today, we are not a poor nation, but a nation of the poor. Only the poor comprise our populace; the corrupt elite and ruling class is affluent only because others are poor in the true sense. Corruption is permitted, promoted, perpetuated, protected and pardoned at the highest level. On this sorry state of the nation, the forefathers must be turning in their graves. There are several reasons for it. Economists had suggested that if you want to see a country rendered poor, just increase the tariff on services and utilities. So, the PPP-led government has followed the advice; the decisions are taken on wills and whims, and nods and notices. Similarly, the Karachi mayhem is a festering wound in our body politic. One day, we hear the Interior Minister taking notice of the target killings; the next day, it is the PM; and once in a while it is the Presidents pleasure to take notice - without any action by the concerned authorities. Indeed. Karachi is the countrys financial hub and it must return to normal. Then in the absence of a sound economic policy, several Governors of the State Bank have resigned. Currency printing is the only plausible solution with our economic wizards and that keeps inflation all-time high. More so, the war on terror has cost us dearly. Due to the war, millions have perished, been maimed and rendered homeless. Pakistan has lost over 35,000 of its young and old; no one is the victor. It would be a disservice to the country, however, if one remains indifferent to the crises and existential threats facing it. There appears a history of designs directed against us. Apart from the conspiracy theories, what has followed is not a mere chance product, but its skilfully directed. Keeping the Kashmir issue unresolved for instance; the dispute has stalled the process of peace and progress in the region. Instead of pressurising New Delhi to conduct a plebiscite, the West is supporting India for a permanent seat in the UNSC a country consistently flouting its resolutions. There are other issues that are threatening us like insurgency in Balochistan; wedge is being created between the nations defence forces and people; and the USA giving concessions to India, while declining a nuclear deal to Pakistan; pitting Musharraf and patting Zardari, i.e nurturing dictatorship and nursing democracy; installing a pliant government in the country; and Washington pampering and preparing India for a hegemonic role in regional context and containing China. The questions are: Is all this planned, or mere coincidence? Is there light at the end of the tunnel? The challenges are, indeed, enormous that seem insurmountable and surely complex for the present rulers to comprehend. It seems that the present discredited leadership has no solutions for the problems; in fact, it is a part of the problem. Only a true national leadership will be able to steer the country out of the prevailing mess. More so, the US needs to review its policy towards Pakistan. Washington has never been fair to us; it has always left us when in need. Pathetically, President Barack Obama is rendered helpless at the hands of Congress where the Indian and Israeli lobbyists join hands to our detriment. So, before the occupying forces leave Afghanistan, we must anticipate and assess the ills or problems that they will leave for us to encounter. Surrounded by and between two hostile neighbours, survival is a complex phenomenon. We have high stakes in a stable Afghanistan. And Washington must share the roadmap it has for the war-torn country with Islamabad. A career diplomat, both at Washington and London, at this critical phase to handle the complex situation would have been to our advantage and desirability. The writer is the president of PML-Z. Email: Ulhaq.ijaz@gmail.com