More and more, one hears of a change in the offing. Some say a government of technocrats is being put together as they speak. Other than the sensational scenarios and rumours one hears, talk of change is coming from mainstream political players as well. The PML-N has laid down conditions for joining a broad-based national government and has further strengthened its credentials as a pro-democracy party. On the other hand, the MQM is counting on a military-led revolution and has branded their recently slain leader as a martyr of the revolution. What is common in all these formulas, however, is change-without-change and a continuation of status quo. They are not talking about the change that the brave new Pakistani nation is pining for. Over and over, weve seen it. Governments come and governments go; army dictators and civilian populists, imported technocrats and scions of traditional feudal hierarchies, Islamists and socialists, tribal chiefs and middle-class professionals, they have all been a part of the various experiments in governance conducted since our so-called independence. They have come in different combinations and ruled for varying time periods with only one thing in common: a determination to change nothing. Regardless of their rhetoric enshrining lofty political ideals, the new entrants dont really want to shake anything; they just want their piece of the pie. While striving for a positive change in the society is all very good, those talking of bringing about a change need a closer look at how it really comes about. Palace intrigues and jorr-torr among key power-players might be crucial to the formation and continuation of governments, bargains and negotiations might guarantee the right berths in the Cabinet, but these machinations of power elites have little or no significance when it comes to bringing about a change that would make Pakistan a better place for its less-privileged citizens. Actually, weve seen that states change mostly due to the pressure from the citizens fired up by shared ideals and not due to the games that power-elites play. It would be advisable to take the change-pushers with a pinch of salt. The problem with those calling for change are many. To begin with, is the burden of a past that most of them refuse to leave behind. Their previous stints in power and how they used, or abused, it inspires little confidence in their ability to deliver if given another chance. The case of MQM is even more absurd; it finds nothing strange about lambasting a power set-up of which it is an important part. So what stops it from pushing for the change it cherishes within that legitimate context? And together with the opposition parties, what does it have to show for its time in power? It would be unfair to paint the entire political landscape in one colour. And at least on one crucial count, some parties are better than others. The PML-N, for instance, has made it very clear that the change must be brought about by staying within the constitutional parameters. On the other end of the spectrum is the MQM that finds nothing wrong with appealing to patriotic generals to intervene and save the country from unscrupulous politicians. But at the end of the day, entrenched as they all are in the same rotten political game of patronage and privileges, and bereft as they all are of a credible vision and programme, the differences are more of nuances than substance. Though discussions about politics and the need to change things have been common for some time, these days they seem to have become our staple diet. Everyone seems to be talking about it and, in a way, it is a good thing. It shows that people understand that there is a problem and are struggling to find a way out of it. They might disagree on the exact nature of the problem and on ways to move forward, but there is a striking agreement on the desire to shed the rotten legacy of governance that weve suffered for so long. And that is where true leaders of change come in, people who not only talk about what is wrong, but are also able to show the dissatisfied citizens a way out of their predicament. During the course of one of the discussions a friend remarked rather simply that nothing would change unless we get rid of the Americans. Of course, he was not talking about killing them off and declaring Pakistan an American-free country. He meant the severing of the master-slave ties we have with the so-called sole superpower. And however simply he put it, he is absolutely right. If the state of Pakistan is to deliver to its citizens, it will have to take charge of its policies. Nothing would change as long as the leaders of Pakistan view themselves as errand boys of the US; you could either serve the interests of the citizens who inhabit this land or obediently carry out the agenda of imperial masters who have other things on their minds. Obviously, the welfare of the Pak-istani citizens is the last thing on their minds. And this has to change before anything else. How can you expect the state to work in the interest of its citizens, especially its least-privileged masses, when its functionaries formulate economic policies to please shy-locks in the IMF? How can you expect the state to work for peace when its leaders join a spurious war against a poor neighbour and its own citizens? How can the state provide energy, food and health to its citizens, when those formulating the policies are puppets in the hands of multi-billion dollar companies that thrive on making them scarce and controlling their availability? Clearly, there is a clash of interest, and those wishing to bring about a change must address this contradiction. There is very little that any leadership could do if it does not break free from a global framework designed to make the powerful more powerful and the weak weaker, the rich richer and the poor poorer. Unfortunately, none of the change-pushers are talking about changing this core-dynamic that lies at the root of all our problems and a failure to solve our actual problems. Perhaps they actually have other things on their minds. The writer is a freelance columnist.