Pakistans national security is intricately linked to the stability in the Middle East; the impact is visible in the form of the repatriation of the expatriates. As long as the struggle of the people in the Middle East remained an internal matter, the Pakistanis viewed it as a part of the political process. However, foreign intervention in Libya has drawn a negative reaction from the Pakistani public. The recent uprising in the Middle East was long overdue. An artificial political order imposed on the region after World War I, has ever since been simmering and looking for an opportunity for its logical return to roots. The unnatural balkanisation never went down well amongst the masses of the Middle East. The formation of the erstwhile United Arab Republic by three Arab countries and an aborted plan concerning the merger of Libya and Egypt are examples of attempts to return towards the unified and strong Arab states in the Middle East. The creation of Israel at the end of World War II, by supplanting a legitimate state of Palestine, resulted in a human tragedy that added to the volatility of the region. Three non-conclusive Arab-Israel wars have further compounded the agony of the masses. The forces of change have asserted themselves over and over again; initially the wave of change occurred in the 50s and 60s when military revolts overthrew some of the monarchies. However, the advantage of change never tickled down to the common man. The new rulers soon became as authoritarian as their predecessors were. The collusion between the agents of external hegemony and the perpetrators of internal tyranny sabotaged the purpose of these revolutions. Ensuing frustration amongst the masses became the driving force for the subsequent wave of unrest. The abdication of the Arab cause by Egypt via Camp David Accord was a major setback to the Palestinian struggle. While ignoring the popular sentiment, most of the Arab rulers tacitly followed Egypts line in the context of Israel. Though the rulers of the Middle East capitulated, the people never reconciled. The assassination of President Anwar Sadat was a violent expression of public sentiment. So far, the pro-status quo elements have prevailed and the so-called revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt have been hijacked by the pro-Western forces. More so, the uprisings in Bahrain and Yemen are likely to go the same way; though Yemen may end up in a partition. Meanwhile, the unrest in Syria may follow the Libyan route. Unfortunately, the Middle East in particular and the Muslim world in general, are living under the shadow of profound anti-Islamic prejudices. Even there is no tolerance for symbols associated with Islam and Muslims by the West. For instance, the outcry against benign things like the hijab and minarets indicate the undercurrents of intolerance for Islam, as a way of life. On the political side, Turkeys inability to get the European Unions membership is a case in point. Then obstacles created in the way of the smooth transfer of power to the elected governments in Algeria and Palestine has exposed the myth of love for democracy by the Western democracies. Further the inaction by the West on the violation of human rights on the Palestinians show an attitude of selectivity in this domain as well. The popular perception is that the UN is very prompt to take action when an uprising takes place in a Muslim country; an all-out effort is made to settle the dispute quickly and in favour of the non-Muslims, as it happened in East Timor, and lately in Sudan. While foot-dragging on issues is clearly visible when the Muslims are the beneficiaries of any such settlement - the disputes of Palestine and Kashmir are a case in point. Thus, there is a marked difference in the approaches taken by the Western countries towards the uprisings in all the Middle Eastern nations, as compared to the hostile line of action followed in Libya. The focus in all the other countries was to either protect the regime or make a cosmetic transition by handpicking the successor regime, which could ensure continuity. But in Libya, the focus is on decimating the military capability, regime change, occupation of its oil fields, and partition of the country. In the neighbourhood of Arab countries, the Iranian revolution has survived for over four decades. This model has radiated its effects in the adjoining areas. The revolution occurred due to the simultaneous readiness of the public and the alternative leadership; surely, a relationship between these two vital ingredients of revolution severs both as a source of national strength and a system of checks and balances. Even the detractors concede that the expression of disagreement after the previous election was a voice for an in-house political change and not an expression of anti-revolution sentiment. Iran has played the role of a facilitator of stability in the post-elections Iraq; it is positively engaged with the Afghan government; and has also enabled Lebanon in achieving a relatively better political steadiness. The Iranian revolution presents a way forward without submitting to the neo-colonial powers. Nevertheless, even after four decades, existential threats to the Iranian revolution are of grave magnitude and resurgence of regressive forces cannot be ruled out. Its economic and social strangulation through sanctions; threats of invasion on the pretext of nuclear issues; and subversion through discontented elements, make a potent complex of external intervention and internal intrigue. Also, a silent change has taken place in Turkey over the past one decade. It has receded from its march towards secular ideals and the European identity. The democratic process has taken firm roots, economy has been turned around, and the pride of a common Turk stands boosted. Lebanon went through a long spell of painful instability, and is far from sustainable calm. The deep-seeded discord amongst the Shia and Sunni have plunged this unfortunate country into a precarious situation. A Muslim majority country is on its knees in front of manipulative Christian minority. Another cause of its troubles is its close proximity to Israel. Keeping in view the proxy wars, and sectarian based alignment of its mainstream politicians, Lebanon is poised to remain instable for an indefinite period of time. This certainly does not represent a tenable model for change. The Middle East is poised to undergo a major transformation, but in multiple stages. The pro-status quo forces are rather strong and have the capacity of bouncing back several times. And the neo-colonial powers are at the back of the elements striving for the continuity of the existing policies of the Middle Eastern states, especially for a continuous supply of cheap oil and territorial integrity of Israel. While living under these insecure circumstances, the masses in the Middle East are looking for a paradigm shift in the domestic and the international policies of their countries. But those striving for change may be in for the long haul. And the prevalent anti-Islam prejudices and phobias are poised to intensify the urge and tempo of the pro-change forces. It seems that the Middle East is moving towards the emergence of larger and stronger states through intermediary stages of uprisings and disturbances. The emergent states are likely to be less pro-Western, more pro-Islamic and less friendly towards Israel. n The writer is a retired Air Commodore of the Pakistan Air Force. Email: