I was at the Seminar organised by Imran Khan in Islamabad to discuss the prospect "Beyond the Military Operation". While there was widespread scathing comment on the dynamics of the operation and the way things were being handled by the incumbent dispensation, practically no one had any credible alternate strategy to offer to handle the deteriorating situation and the mammoth humanitarian tragedy that is occurring right in our midst. What we are witnessing is the largest single human migration since the partition of the sub-continent back in 1947. What is even more depressing is a total lack, even absence of any viable plan for handling the evolving catastrophe. There was general sarcasm regarding the panel of speakers that had been invited for the occasion. All of them, at one time or the other in their careers as diplomats, bureaucrats or politicians, had served and perpetuated the interests of one or more dictators. While one may understand their obvious concern at the horrendous spectacle that is being enacted as a consequence of sheer servility, apathy and incompetence of the political leadership that controls the reins of power, one cannot overlook the reality that a majority of the speakers should share bulk of the blame for bringing the country to the brink of disaster. It was patent hypocrisy to hear Qazi Hussain Ahmad saying that he did not carry a brief for the Taliban and then launch a vituperative attack on the liberal values that were envisioned for Pakistan at the time of its creation. Jamaat-e-Islami's role of working in cahoots with a sequence of despots is not hidden from any one. Let no one forget that JI is the party that, in addition to supporting the military action in the former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, also facilitated dictator Musharraf in getting the 17th amendment through the parliament that legitimised all his unconstitutional and illegal steps including the overthrow of a democratically elected government. What moral right and authority does he have to pontificate so disdainfully on issues regarding which his stance may have contributed to the creation of a crisis in the first place? Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was also critical of the contours of the policy that the government is following to tackle the situation in Swat and other restive areas. One understands that the current approach is devoid of numerous requisites and essential ingredients that may be needed, but what is surprising that even he was not able to come up with an alternate strategy to handle the crisis. He was vocal regarding the need for extending support to the government at this critical stage for the sake of a unified stand, but looked unmindful of the consequences of the position that PML(N) is being perceived to be taking along the way. When the curtain falls, which does not seem far, no one would be willing to buy the argument that the support was extended for the reason cited. The critics would be justified in asking whether PML(N) had offered a more credible alternate course of action to combat the crisis that Pakistan is confronted with at this juncture of its history. In case of a negative answer, that is rather obvious, it is PML(N) that would be targeted to share the blame with the incumbent dispensation. I am afraid the current situation is turning out to be a repeat of what PML(N) had landed up with after Mr. Zardari reneged on all the promises that he made, verbally and in writing, with its leadership regarding the restoration of an independent judiciary. The argument that PML(N) had offered then was that it did not want to destabilize the democratic process, but its continued support to the government was perceived to be a convenient ploy to let the devil hang himself. The strategy did not work as it required a long march to force the PPP leadership to agree to the restoration of the judiciary and rehabilitate some of the credibility that PML(N) had lost along the way. Today, the party sits atop the pinnacle of moral authority that should not only be preserved, but strengthened further. This could happen only if its leadership realises the enormity of the challenge and comes out with a credible plan that is best suited to tackle the present and the emerging crisis. Just standing by as a spectator with an intention to let the government commit blunders, thus adding further value to the PML(N) leadership, would be taking a risk with the future of the country itself. There is little doubt that the current policy has been formulated away from the echelons of power and the only job entrusted to the local concoction is to enforce it. It is a perpetuation of the US mindset and the way it thinks about advancing its short- and long-term interests in this region. Pakistan has been reduced to the status of a lowly client state that is taking the dictation and implementing the policy ingredients irrespective of the immense damage that it may cause to its own inherent interests. As I have said repeatedly that only a legitimate leadership would have the ability and the moral authority to speak up for the interest of the country. That is not the case in Pakistan. We have a leadership that owes its existence in no small measure to the US. It, therefore, is devoid of the legitimacy that is so essential to piece together a multi-pronged plan that would best serve the interests of Pakistan. In the existing situation, PML(N) would have to demonstrate an even greater level of commitment to the country and come forth with the best combination of steps that should be immediately commissioned to save Pakistan from the disaster that it is headed towards in the current instance. Because of persistent mishandling, the situation in the restive areas has deteriorated alarmingly and it may have drifted well beyond a routine dose of antibiotics. It may also be essential for a more surgical treatment of which a well-defined military action could be an essential component. But, there are so many other inputs that are apparently missing from the one-dimensional approach that is being pursued. Bloodshed is being responded to with more bloodshed. An abject lack of rational thinking is eliciting indiscriminate bombing. Pragmatism appears to have been replaced with a lopsided stress on the use of force as the exclusive means to confront the scourge of militancy. Let it be remembered that pursuing violence breeds violence. This may actually be happening and the operation that is currently underway may become an unending malady impacting the psyche of the entire country. Soon, it would be impossible to escape its consequent venomous tentacles that already run rather deep. It is time to pay heed. It is time to take a step back as that would not be a display of any lack of bravery, but a reiteration of a serious commitment to the salvation of Pakistan and its people. The writer is an independent political analyst based in Islamabad E-Mail: raoofhasan@hotmail.com