There are three issues of significance in the Muslim world where the USA is directly involved - Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.          Contrary to widely held view, the issue of Palestine is close to being resolved. Fatah leader Abbas is too close to Americans to have any credibility; Hamas leadership is too intransigent; but the solution is close at hand. Time is not on the side of Israel and both solutions on offer are viable: *    Two-state solution in accordance with UNSC Resolution 242 *    One state solution based on the 'right to return' of Palestinian refugees and majority rule. That the Israeli president has accepted the King Abdullah plan (of two state solution) indicates that Israel now recognises that it is more favourable to it. If Israel continues to colonise the West Bank, the 'One State Solution' would become the only viable option. Therefore, if Barack Obama as president did nothing except to ask Israel to negotiate terms for its coexistence with Palestinians and its Arab neighbours itself, the result will be taking up of one of the two options. It is Israel that needs to hurry if it wanted to continue to exist as Jewish states. Benign neglect - giving no money to either side - is a more apt form of even-handedness that would concentrate minds and yield results. As for Iraq, Obama has won his historic election victory promising to end the war and withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq within 18 months. If he kept that promise, it would be a victory by his own definition. To resile from that promise would be his defeat. In Afghanistan, Senator Obama said he would win a quick victory and pull out. President Obama is likely to follow through. General Petreus of 'surge in Iraq' fame is now the Commander of CENTCOM and he would like to deliver on what his new C-in-C wants. There would be 'surge' in Afghanistan, an attempt to separate the 'good Taliban' from the 'bad Taliban', get the good Taliban on their side and with their help General Petreus would be able to secure, or at least declare, a victory. Thus another 'good war' would be brought to a 'good conclusion'. Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, is already working on a strategy for the war to be concluded quickly and on US terms. The 'Gates Strategy' now in place is unlikely to be changed. What is that strategy? It is founded on a realisation that the war in Afghanistan is being fought as a war of liberation not as a war between secularism and fundamentalism as America wanted. America cannot win against forces of liberation. Such a war is both un-winnable and also a 'bad war'. The Old Guard, who provide the intellectual and strategy support to Barack Obama, is led by Professor Brzezinski. In his view, Pakistan is ripe for several 'good wars' i.e. wars for liberation (of the Baloch tribes and other ethnic group desirous of freedom) and war for the triumph of 'secularism' over 'fundamentalism', which America can and should support. The new government in Pakistan is also a product of the same strategy. Every party in the ruling coalition - the PPP, the MQM and the ANP - is a 'secular' party. And it is eager for a fight with the 'mullah-military alliance'. In his interview with WSJ, Pakistan's President Asif Zardari made repeated appeals to America to help him generously (with 100 Billion Dollars) to compensate 'him' for the losses being suffered for the 'good war' he is fighting for them. The Pakistani Ambassador in the US, in his interview with the CNN, went further. He said that the military was now under civilian control but the 'long established links between the mullahs and the military' cannot disappear over-night. He put the military on notice - join the good war against secularism or be treated as the enemy and be annihilated. That he gave credence to Indo-US propaganda and provided a rationale for continuation of Predator attacks on Pakistan is less important. What is more important is that the army has been warned that it would be used to defeat the 'evil' force of fundamentalism. So, the interviews provide a clue to the foreign policy of the new civil government. The policy is that Pakistan is ready for a prolonged 'good war' against the evils of 'fundamentalism and extremism' but that the US must raise the compensation it pays to Pakistan. The line being used by Zardari is the same as General Musharraf's, who used it stay in power for eight years: "help me stay in power otherwise the mullahs will take over the nukes." Hussain Haqqani even wrote a book with Mullah-Military Alliance. He earned a professorship in the USA for his service. But he was critical of Musharraf; he alleged that the general (retd) was just 'pretending' to be a secular liberal whereas he was an active partner in the mullah-military alliance. Having since joined Asif Zardari, he certifies that the liberal and secular credentials of his new boss are impeccable. So, the battle lines have been drawn for a few good wars - wars of liberation and a war for the triumph of secularism over fundamentalism. In this war, the PPP led coalition is on the side of liberal and secular forces; the armed forces have yet to come on side; the majority of the people of Pakistan are the enemy. The current US strategy is India-centric. The war in Afghanistan in Afghanistan is to go through three phases: attempt at negotiations with the Taliban; a 'surge' and declaration of victory; exit by the bulk of US ground troops leaving India in charge.  In the war between secularism and fundamentalism inside Pakistan, India would be active on the side of secular forces and would intervene militarily at the 'right time'. The war in Pakistan would also have several phases: 1) an 'economic meltdown'; 2) intensification of army operations in FATA and NWFP; 3) heightening of sectarian/ethnic tension in Sindh and Balochistan. All of this would easily lead to break down of law and order that the present incompetent and unpopular government would not be able to cope with. It would end up calling in the USA - the only forces that could bring all those 'good wars' to a satisfactory conclusion. An opinion has been openly and repeatedly expressed in the USA that President Obama would be faced with a situation of Pakistan - a 'nuclear weapon state' becoming a failed state. That would be the first challenge to 'test the mettle' of President Obama soon after his inauguration. It is difficult to say at this time whether its is a trap being set-up for the new president, or he is willingly co-operating with the diabolical scheme. But one thing is clear. If Pakistan's existing foreign policy continues into Obama presidency, our rulers desire for more money or for prolonging the war in Afghanistan may not be met but the country will become a failed state. An unpopular military dictator at least has the armed forces to rely on; the PPP leadership has no such dependable support from any quarter inside Pakistan and yet it continues to defy public sentiment on the issue of the restoration of judges and is eager for a war on the "mullah-military alliance." There is one big lacuna in the scheme. Wars of liberation of tribal or ethnic groups or for the triumph of Secularism have failed spectacularly in almost every Muslim country including Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. Why would Pakistan be different? The ruling coalition comprising secular forces can deliver a 'failed state' as well as ethnic strife. But it cannot deliver their victory. The end result would be a bigger mess than any the USA has managed to create with uncertain consequences. The real challenge for President Obama is not to pursue the Bush-Gates strategy more adroitly but to change that strategy before it is too late. The option of Pakistan centric exit strategy is still open. The US (and NATO) military can and should get out of Afghanistan but its benign civil presence would remain welcome not just by Afghans but almost all of the neighbours of Afghanistan including, no, especially, Pakistan. Like most Muslims, I would like the first ever a 'black president' who has empathy for Islam and Muslims to succeed. I pray that he avoids the pitfall of India-centric 'exit from Afghanistan' strategy. All that is needed is to listen to the voice of the majority in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. Obama has been elected to stop senseless hate and slaughter. He must succeed not just for the sake of the American kids fighting and dying in distant lands among unfamiliar peoples who the Bushes and McCains of the world hold in so much disdain and contempt. The writer is the director of the London Institute of South Asia