One can discern a degree of similarities between the two presidents - Zardari and Obama, although in terms of personal traits, they are very different. Zardari was living a peaceful life in exile, as a political non-entity in London, while his wife was on her triumphant return to Pakistan on October 18, 2007 when the assassins tried to kill her and failed, but succeeded in eliminating her on December 27, 2007. Promptly Zardari returned to Pakistan "to claim his right to the Party, Politics and Power." Now he sits in Aiwan-e-Sadr, as the most powerful president with the destiny of the nation in his hands. On February 20, 2008, I rang up to congratulate him for the majority, his party had won in the elections. He acknowledged my compliments with his characteristic humility and remarked, "We have to change the system (Nizam Bdalna hai) and that is my mission." I wished him well. Now, it is almost seven months, that the 'system' he wanted to change, seems to have over-whelmed him and the 'change', he wants to bring about, remains subdued under the policies of Musharraf and the heavy baggage of the NRO, yet he has the time to deliver. So far his efforts have been consumed for the consolidation of his political power, yet he has not played his hands, as expected of the man - the 'Gallant Fighter' - (Mard-e-Hurr) - he is commonly known as. Beset with innumerable problems, Pakistan is a difficult country to govern, as someone rightly called Pakistan as "the wild-west of South Asia." Pakistan is facing the critical problems of economic melt-down; energy crisis; food shortages and an armed conflict on the borders where Obama wants to exercise the "option of surge under General David Petraeus and the right of pre-emptive strikes against targets in Pakistan" - an ominous challenge to Pakistan's sovereignty and security. Senator Obama, about whom we knew very little, till he burst upon the American scene with the courtesy of the media and subsequently catapulted to power as an atonement's for his country's sins, under Bush and the neo-cons, in the same manner as Benazir's death catapulted Zardari to power. Obama, now has to lead America, beset with economic melt-down, facing defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the shattered dream of global primacy and pre-eminence. He is the right man, in the White House, at the right time. He can rightly be called the 'Global Hybrid' of the age of globalisation. He is a Kenyan as well as an American, a Muslim and also a Christian, and a Black as well as a White. A perfect choice by the American voters, to solve the mess created by Bush and his team, particularly the economic chaos, which the Americans have never experienced before. Like Zardari, he also has an agenda for change. Can he deliver Domestic politics and strong lobbies in the United States such as the Jewish lobby, Defence Industries Cartel and the growing Indian influence, would restrain and limit his policies of change, particularly his search for peace in the Middle East, Afghanistan and South Asia. And added to such restraints, is the most pressing issue, as Bush has identified: "the economic challenges will not pause to let the new president to settle-in." Obama's policy for Iraq and Afghanistan are more or less the same as followed by Bush. In Iraq, the occupation forces will leave by 2009. In Afghanistan, "the policy of surge and pre-emptive strikes on targets in Pakistan" conforms to Bush doctrine, recently propounded by him. This policy would bring intensity in the ongoing operations on both sides of the borders and the resultant fallout on Pakistan. The Pakistani nation has already reached the limits of tolerance, as a result of such targeting inside Pakistan. The continuation of such a policy would have serious repercussion on state-to-state relations. Obama may pay heed to the opinions of the American defence analysts, who say that "America cannot win the war in Afghanistan"- a situation which demands change in policy but unfortunately there is an "intellectual blockade", which has kept out Ideas that could strengthen homeland security. No doubt, "the US has the world best universities and attracts the world's finest minds. It dominates discoveries, in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge, yet a genuine intellectual elite, like the neo-cons has managed to pitch the political conflict, as battle between America and the rest of the world." It is here that Obama has to show courage and serenity of judgement to find the subtle difference between what is right and what is wrong, to bring about the necessary change. What is needed now is the replacement of American hegemony, with an efficient global governance. "The changes that we see in the global order are not only a threat to the power of the United States. They may also be a watershed, for the political, cultural and economic domination that America and Europe have enjoyed for centuries. This will be difficult for the Americans and the Europeans to understand." For Obama, "more powerful than the march of the mighty armies is the Idea, whose time has come." He must seize the moment and respect the trust, people have reposed in him. For Zardari, the Fundamental Direction is clearly defined by the peoples verdict of February 18, 2008. He has to make the Parliament sovereign to lead him and the nation to a bright democratic future. This is not the time to flinch and flaunt. It is not the time to act timid like his defence minister helplessly waiting for the predator to strike. Expediency is not the name of national policy, on such sensitive matters, impacting national pride, honour and dignity. The writer is a former chief of army staff E-mail: