For the millions who watched the finals of the mens doubles, as well as the mixed doubles, (on TV or live) during the recently concluded US Open Tennis Tournament, Pakistan has a new face. It is good-looking, friendly and literate, for a change Aisamul Haq has done us all proud. His single-minded dedication to his sport of tennis, heretofore quite ignored in Pakistan, has paid off and brought laurels to the country. Aisam is such a good representative of the urban and educated youth of Pakistan, who have all the potential to make their mark in the world. His success also shows us that the effort was all his own and his familys. There were no state-sponsored advantages for him. His principled stands on keeping sports away from political divides and being firm in doing the right thing is the face of Pakistan that is trying so hard to emerge from the distortion that is at play presently. Aisams short speech at the end of the game did for Pakistan what the best PR lobbyist can only ever dream to achieve. He won hearts and minds, and that is where the end results of all battles lie. The huge outpouring of affection by all and sundry for Aisam on his return was a diversion from the constant bad tidings and also brought into focus how much every one yearned for good news and good times. Particularly so, after the disrepute earned by the pampered cricket team. It has also emphasised the importance of character building in nations. While our schools do try to do their bit in teaching the right values to their students, it is the real life lessons which actually mould their opinions between right and wrong in the ultimate analysis. When they see their elected representatives and other successful people in society getting away with corruption, lying, cheating, murder, rape, etc, etc, the will to stick to the straight and narrow goes out of the window. Aisam appears to be the epitome of the boy next door. Nice parents, equally well brought up siblings, symbolising all that is good about us. Even though there remains the festering issue of the Kashmir problem between India and Pakistan, the symbolism of Aisam and his Indian partner, Rohan Boppana, playing their hearts out on the same side, demonstrated that India and Pakistan, if they combine their talents, can be among the best in the world. A peaceful co-existence is what the majority of the subcontinent wants. It has become the requirement of this century to combat common enemies, instead of trying to annihilate one another. We have the potential to become a model region if the will of the majority can prevail. The foremost requirement for any region to achieve a modicum of success in overcoming its problems is through education. One heard the news of 68 VCs threatening to resign by the 20th of this month if the government did not provide funds for their universities. The Finance Minister and the Planning Commission were of the view that the universities should generate more money for themselves through varied suggested measures because of the unprecedented fiscal crunch. I, for one, support the VCs and wish that funds earmarked for some other project could be diverted to them. Scholarship must get priority over certain other projects. Meanwhile, some business wiz kids can instruct the VCs on how to maximise earnings from their adjoining lands and facilities, so they improve their income from next year. So dont be surprised if you hear of universities being rented out for wedding events or evening clinics on the side Or, the VCs offering to give tuitions to sustain themselves. The talk of change is in the air. It remains to be seen what shape and form it takes. Here is hoping that Pakistan is given a peaceful push forward to becoming a truly welfare, corruption-free state, within the legal parameters. The debate of ex-President Musharraf joining active politics has added a new twist to the existing scenario. It remains to be seen if the contributions he collected during his telethon for the flood affected will also translate into political support. Postscript: If anyone is interested in researching what the majority of this nation is actually like, the four day break over the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays would have been a good education. Those in the cities which were not affected by the floods jam-packed parks, public places and cinemas as if there was no tomorrow. All public and picnic places were filled to capacity on all four days. It was like watching a nation determined not to let anything, even the worst disaster, get it down. The recently leaked plan to assassinate Chief Justice Lahore High Court left everyone quite dumbakhud, as they say in the vernacular. The plot to do this, the leak alleged, was being hatched between the Governors House in Lahore and one named Federal Minister. It sounded much like the plot of a suspense film. (Why the minister would want to destabilise his own government was left up to the audiences imagination) Whoever dreamed up this mischief must be located and gotten at. There are times and there are times. At present when we face the aftermath of a flood of biblical proportions, is certainly not when someone should be allowed to get away with these retarded and hair brained schemes. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com