On a clear, sunny morning near Washington, in a place called Camp David, someone was basking and relishing in the embrace, praise and the dollar petals that were being compassionately showered upon him, the former president of the Islamic republic, never short on his stock of "individual bravado", an admirer of Ataturk (how?) Musharraf needs our praise for leading us into a struggle for Pakistan, refashioning our ties with the US will be the first step in that direction. I, for once, never had a doubt that the Americans were not interfering in our internal affairs and violating our sovereignty, politically, economically and even militarily but what little was left of what we in the good old days called sovereign has been put to shreds by successive American onslaughts in the tribal areas. Pakistan must undertake a careful and serious review of it's relations with the US. The American incursions and their resolve to continue with the same needs to be effectively taken up at the top level in the US and elsewhere. Unfortunately, this is not the best time to peruse that objective in Washington with Bush weeks away from relinquishing a troubled presidency. The US election now looks likely to be a heated contest between the two presidential hopefuls, Barack Obama and John McCain. Both of whom have declared their intention to shift focus on Afghanistan which is the "main theatre of the terror front." Whoever becomes the next president, it is unlikely that such incursions will be halted, at least temporarily. The soldier and republican in John McCain might view the Pakistani position more favourably and Obama's running mate, a man who understands Pakistan well, might do the same but with a new strategy. His calls for a "democracy dividend" of about $15 billion dollars for Pakistan is an integral part of that strategy. It is likely, however, that the attacks by drones would be more of a "start and stop" thing. The attacks will continue to be used as a pressure tactic by the US and greater coverage of such attacks in the US might be used by either Obama or McCain to shore up their "tough message" credentials and win popular backing for their new strategy of shifting focus in the War On Terror just like Bush and his team did before that fateful invasion of Iraq. The latest developments, statements from the US, extensive coverage in the American press which was the first to drop hints to more of such attacks is a reminder that the US has a long-term interest in this region and will not allow this region to exchange hands with a group that is hostile to US interests. If this alliance, which diplomats from both countries, like to call strategic (for whatever reason) is serving any interest, it is strengthening the dislike of the US in Pakistan, alienating the tribal population against the federation and emboldening the terrorists to hang on until the "infidel bleeds to death." Our decision makers need to evolve a strategy which builds public opinion for the War, root out rogue elements, for ceasing the war, after creating such a mess would destabilise us for good. The centuries old tribal system, traditions and codes are strong enough to resist a fascist take over. A grand strategy that consolidates on a rapid socio-economic development, specifically in NWFP and rest of the country, as envisaged by Senator Biden is the right start. A possible addition to such a programme can be bilateral debt relief bilaterally and multilaterally or are we anxiously waiting to squander another $10 billion? Another way is to bring the tribal belt, gradually, into the mainstream. The think tanks which thrive on plum budgets in Washington DC would do better than predict Armageddon scenario's for Pakistan in their quarterly journals and reports. For the situation on the ground is much worse than we read in broadsheets or on the web, the unfortunate bit being that it isn't getting any better and is deteriorating on a daily basis, not even helped, as many had hoped, by the election of those who are currently in charge of the Frontier. Their democratic credentials have not been supremely served by their broad grins while casting votes in the presidential election and their wailing for "selected" ministerial slots. This has not only tore into shreds their standing but also goes to show three things. One, how far has the party come from the ideals and politics that were preached by it's founder. Two, that the constant cribbing over the years by the surkh sailaab for not being able to get a grip on things unless in power was empty sloganeering. Lastly, it shows the current lowly, shameful trends being practised in our politics across the board. It is easy to play tennis and admire Ataturk, extremely difficult, even, to come close to such tall shadows. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: distantcitylights@hotmail.com