A birthday should be an auspicious occasion. Today, as Pakistan celebrates its 61st birthday instead of celebrations, yet another lamentable battle for political survival looms dangerously on the horizon. Ironically, political collisions in this land of ours are not the kind that favour democratic settlement but spawn intrigue or violence leading to extreme solutions. Even more painful is that each such revolution, and there have been many, gives birth to yet another insensitive, and inept government led by the cult syndrome rather than by the needs of the country and its people. "A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle" goes the famous Curtis quote. We have eagerly sought the elusive one to follow this principle without even getting so much as close. Patriotism in that sense has not been the pinnacle. Yes it's been trumpeted. But such a hollow sound may never have been heard. Person has dominated governance in this country; its citizens have been bystanders, left like scavengers to bite at the leftovers. Curtis' honoured "principle" in shreds. Battle after battle, in politics and war, has driven the country to reel and rove. The foundations envisaged by the forefathers, based on ideals and principles, have never taken hold. Correction; have never been allowed to take hold. Embedded within the system has been a curse that refuses to respect the sovereign right of the people and country. The strange fact is that the preparations for battle are always more exciting than the battle itself. The strategy sessions, evolution of the final battle plan, at least on paper, the thunderous sounds of armour on the move, the shining knights stepping smartly in their goosestep with complete resolve. The spirit and hopes of the people evoked. The battle itself is over too quickly. "The guffaws of gory guns" complete the carnage. Charred, stinking debris of peoples' hopes and aspirations litter the theatre. Live corpses are left to fend for themselves. Food, water, and electricity scarce; the economy ravaged and left in ruins. Tragically, there is scant regard for this aftermath. Damaged to the very core, it takes generations before recovery is near complete. The harsh impact is only upon the downtrodden. History is replete with these tragedies. Take this country. It has suffered numerous ten-year cycles. And it has gotten nowhere. It still flounders. Bangladesh continues its suffering. Sri Lanka bleeds. It took India almost as much time to come to terms but deep within the crisis continues; even yesterday thirty people died in Kashmir. It has taken all of China's massive resources and incredible will power to finally emerge as a nation to be reckoned with both politically and economically. Sucked in by this quagmire, desperately reaching out, we find few solutions; at least acceptable ones. Another ten-year cycle seems to be staring us in the face, as if we haven't endured enough of them already. For genuine development to take place and for the evolution and emancipation of our people an uninterrupted, genuine peoples' government is an absolute necessity. It appears we are not within sniffing distance yet. We are just clutching at straws. In Musharraf people thought they had finally found that idealist. A man from humble beginnings with origins outside the hierarchy. He lost out and failed when he changed skins, sought legitimacy, became a pragmatist and relied not upon his inherent beliefs but upon his "second skin" to deliver. History will judge him as a man of lost opportunities; immense and multiple opportunities. Pakistan is now in dire need of a thinker, an intellectual, a practical idealist; someone who has experienced other than just the privileged class. A man who believes his country is "a principle". A man whom the people and the army can support. So that he may teach the nation how to swim and keep its head above the water. To learn respect, tolerance and nationhood. And in so doing play its undeniable role. Battles don't throw up men like this. Victors are so incredibly rapt in their egos that the glory of victory becomes the very source of greater insensitivity. Unless the battle is a holocaust and no man leaves the field alive. The survivors being only those that were either too insignificant, young perhaps, or too perceptive to engage. Somewhere amongst these may lurk the one that continues to be elusive. Such men are not dreams, however, one must agree, they are far and few between. They are the special gifts from God. Gifts that only He, in his largesse, can plant where He likes and from whichever one of His religions He chooses. Be it a Jinnah, a Nehru, a Deng, a Mandela, a Havel, a Putin. But each time the onus falls upon the people of a country to deliver such men through great sacrifice. Each time a little hope glimmers, a tiny light at the end of a dark, dismal tunnel, it is quickly put out before it flares. The might of the establishment guns them down for fear of being contaminated by ideology. The scourge flourish when there is no ideology and no beliefs except self. When they can legitimise wrong and are not curbed by what is legitimate. And this is when the breaking point is reached. When the people stop caring because what they feel is irrelevant and there is little they can do. Decisions are taken at a distance, away from them, and in utter disregard of them. They are compelled to gather around media, in their suffering, and watch as discussions are held at the palaces in Never, Never Land. Frankly those decisions don't find their way to the stomachs and the minds of the common man. They are only for the inhabitants of that illusionary land. The people are helpless and hapless. Political credibility is quickly at its lowest ebb despite polls having been held only six months ago. Complete confusion reigns in the country. No one, even the leaders themselves, knows whom to believe. There are statements and commitments that do not stand the test of the day forget about anything longer. Whoever can lay a hand on a microphone sprouts their sacrifices for the nation. They don't dwell on what the nation has had to sacrifice to perpetrate them. What it continues to sacrifice to sustain them. We are then forced to find consensus behind the only known solution, certainly not the best one. Today, sadly, we are that point once again. Ask anyone about the outcome of the present political battle. They will respond with one answer only, "It's all up to Kayani" May Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, guide us. 40 years to the day, I distinctly remember, my father was honoured with the Sitara-e-Pakistan. At the President's House I looked into the eyes of the FM, a very handsome man weakened by a serious illness. Even then he was the epitome of the pillar of strength. For me he will always be the man whose words, "the hearts of a hundred million Pakistanis beat to the cry of La Ilaha Ilallah Mohammad ar Rasool Allah," united this nation on September 6, 1965. I wish we would believe in our principle, our special gift from God, and I pray our hearts beat together once again. The writer is a Karachi-based political and economic analyst E-mail: imranmhusain@gmail.com