The PPP-led coalition government is accused of dysfunction, carrying a non-inspiring team and continuing with the policies of General Musharraf against which the people had voted the previous government out of power. The government spokespersons defend themselves by blaming the eight year one man dictatorial rule for all the ills they have inherited. None of these is entirely true. For the first three years after staging a core commander's led coup against a democratically elected government in 1999, General Musharraf ruled through a competent team of technocrats, during which the constitution was not abrogated, the economy was stabilised, corruption was minimised, a number of reforms were introduced and the general familiarised himself with the intricacies of governance. However, in the yearning for legitimacy and self-aggrandisement that is the weakness of every dictator, he lost way to the goal of implementing his declared seven point agenda that had the potential of changing the fate of the ordinary people of our country. He created a political party, held elections (and a referendum) and manoeuvred a majority in the Parliament and to get himself elected twice as president of the Islamic republic. In the process, he compromised on all principles and defaced the constitution at will. Easy money came (and was recklessly spent) as the Americans allowed capital inflow after their invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 that had earlier been denied by way of economic sanctions. The military dictator was recognised as a strategic ally, Pakistan's isolation in the world community ended and an agreement to allow unconditional access for American and NATO forces to our logistic corridors and bases earned the General President a personal friendship with President George Bush. He installed a banker prime minister, who steered the economic structure towards consumer finance, generating excessive liquidity in the market, introducing a culture of spending before earning, extending lucrative favours to international companies and encouraging imports at the cost of domestic industry and its productivity. The economic indicators rose and the stock markets boomed creating immense wealth for a few, but the promised trickle down for the poor never materialised. The whole structure built on weak footings and manipulated projections collapsed with the slight shock of the Lawyers' Movement that began in March 2007 with the termination of the chief justice of Pakistan. The economic nosedive has not seen the bottom since. President Musharraf and his team that remained in-charge during this period, failed to anticipate and take measures to arrest the rapid decline due to preoccupation in their personal survival that took precedence over national interest that they so often undertook to hold above everything else. Among the legacy of the previous regime are a stable and functional government that completed its full tenure, increased women participation, lowering the voting age to eighteen, freedom of media and press, promoting higher education, holding of general elections and smooth transfer of power to elected representatives. On the negative side: submission to the US in their war without protecting our national interest that fuelled insurgencies in our border areas and suicide attacks in the whole country, isolating Balochistan by hunting and killing Nawab Akbar Bugti, ignoring power development sector, promoting the interests of multi-nationals who took out more from the country than what they put in and trading the soul of this ideological state for enlightened moderation, materialism and western priorities. It is in this mixed context that a leaderless Peoples Party was thrown into the deep end with a sinking economy, vacuum of nationhood among the people and polarisation among the politicians. A most unlikely Asif Ali Zardari, with a dubious past and nine years in prison, emerged as the President of Pakistan commanding an overwhelming support of the electorate. He used his amazing skills of wheeling and dealing to gather politicians of all shades on a single platform, subduing the only conventional adversary PML-N that could pose a challenge to his party and taking the wind out of the sails of the Lawyers' Movement that was necessary for his personal survival. Seven months is not too long a period for consolidation of power by a relative novice who had been kept away from active mainstream politics for so long and for a party that was unprepared for such a monumental responsibility surrounded by apparently insurmountable problems. The PPP chose to work with the existing establishment and not rock the boat by opening another front against them. The last one year has witnessed unprecedented rise in international oil and commodity prices causing high inflation, scarcity of food items particularly flour, reducing our reserves to an equivalent of two months of imports and depreciating the rupee by 25 percent against major currencies. The third quarter of this year began with the meltdown of the global financial structure with the collapse of major investment banks and an insurance giant in the US and several in Europe and the stock markets tumbling to record low indices wiping out trillions of dollars. Our fragile economy took a bigger hit than others in the region, as timely difficult economic decisions were held in abeyance by indifferent managers embroiled in political uncertainties. Presently, we have lost control of the northern border areas, Swat and parts of NWFP are practically under siege by militants reacting to US occupation of Afghanistan by sending suicide missions on high profile targets as a protest and warning against our government's collaboration with the US and NATO forces. The ruling Republican Party of George Bush has been desperate to score some kind of victory against Al-Qaeda and Taliban to present to their electorate before their November 6 presidential elections and has pushed Pakistan army and air force to launch full scale attacks in the tribal area. As expected, the rebels are unaffected and mostly our own people are being killed, wounded and displaced in these raids enhancing hostilities against the rulers as evidenced by targeted attacks against NWFP leaders. These are the daunting challenges for the inexperienced government that has to maintain a balancing act with the diverse bedfellows in the coalition with little room left to manoeuvre. The intensity of the storm, however, appears to be receding. A domestic political stability of sorts is in place. The American pressure is likely to ease as their elections approach and the president elect assumes office on January 20 next year when he will review the cost benefit ratio of the war policies in view of the new financial crunch. Various think tanks are concluding that military option alone has little chance of success without talks with various factions including the Taliban augmented by infra structural development on both sides of the Afghan border and that Pakistan and Afghanistan peace is interlinked. The oil prices are on a downward trend sliding from a high of $145 to less than $80 per barrel. The prices of commodities like palm oil and grain have come down by 30 to 40 percent in the international markets. Self-sufficiency in wheat is forecast in the coming crop. Our banking sector is on a strong footing and has withstood the global financial turmoil. The international community has pledged financial support to economic programmes for the uplift of the backward areas in order to induct unemployed youth in the mainstream away from extremism and the danger of financial default has been averted. The faltering economy and the dreadful menace of suicide attacks and insurgencies are formidable challenges for now that must be faced bravely and with determination, but will soon fade away like bad dreams while the democratic government repairs and improves our image and restore faith in the capabilities of Pakistan. The real challenge is to cultivate in our own people a culture of self-confidence, hope and national pride without which survival and progress of our nation is not only difficult but will be hollow and meaningless. Time for blame game is over. Let deeds speak louder than words. The writer is an engineer and an entrepreneur