Pakistani citizens celebrated their nation's 61st Independence Day on August 14 on a sombre note. Spiralling inflation, depreciation of the value of the rupee, losses in the stock market, high oil and gas prices, energy windfall are some of the major economic woes the ordinary citizen faces. Additionally, the threat to life and property persists with another painful reminder on the eve of Independence Day where nine people were murdered and scores others injured by a suicide bomber in Lahore. At the same time, our political leadership has been embroiled with the issues of presidential impeachment and restoration of the judiciary and there have been endless rounds of negotiations to address these issues. President Musharraf's decision to resign on August 18 means that the coalition can finally move ahead; quickly resolve the long-standing debate over the restoration of the judges as well as the election of the next president and move on to dealing with the economic situation and the War On Terror. These are the real issues and they need to be prioritised as a matter of immediate and urgent importance. President Musharraf's decision to resign represents a significant victory for the four party coalition who are touting it as a victory of democracy. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's address at the August 14 flag hoisting ceremony at the Convention Centre covered a range of issues but unity against dictatorship was the resounding theme: "Political forces should join hands to close the doors for the return of dictatorship." This was clearly a message to President Musharraf that his options were increasingly limited and presidential impeachment would be carried out with the support of the democratic forces. The prime minister also clearly stated that the end of dictatorship was a prerequisite for making Pakistan a real democratic and welfare state which could ensure justice, equality, prosperity, protection of life and property to the people. Though President Musharraf's government presided over some successes " such as the advancement of women's and minority rights, expansion of the media and sustained and high rates of economic growth, there were serious failures which led to his downfall and the failure of PML-Q in the elections in February earlier this year. These included consumer-led economic growth which left the country more vulnerable when the bubble burst, delaying the inevitable increases on the oil and power tariffs so that the new government was given the unpleasant task of passing it on to the masses, mismanagement of the Lal Masjid crisis in terms of letting the conflict brew to the point of no return in the heart of capital city of the country, the mis-advised decision to chase-unto-death veteran Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti and of course, a series of decisions which undermined the judiciary culminating in the imposition of the State of Emergency in November, 2007.  Additionally, Pakistan has been fighting a deeply unpopular War On Terror since 9/11 under the leadership of President Musharraf and most Pakistanis feel that the country is fighting some one else's war. Billions of dollars in aid have entered the country and though several high profile Al-Qaeda operatives were captured on Pakistani territory, reprisal suicide attacks plague the country. There were a total of 56 suicide attacks in Pakistan last year. Hence, it was in this context that President Musharraf's popularity was the lowest it had ever been. His major support base " the Pakistan army and obviously the Americans, seemed to have resigned themselves to the idea of a Pakistan without him. He had become a divisive figure and the coalition partners clearly could not seem to work together with him and coupled with the impeachment charges, he seemed to have very few options open. The onus lay on President Musharraf to ameliorate the situation by stepping down quietly and avoiding the political instability which was bound to follow a presidential impeachment. The initial signs following the resignation are promising. On the economic front, the rupee rose against the US dollar by Rs 1.20 and stocks at the Karachi Stock Exchange went up by 4.5 percent. On the security front, the coalition seems to be on the way towards forging a mature and astute strategy. As the sectarian war continues in Kurram Agency and the army battles with militants in Bajaur, displaced persons increase in number and their needs are of utmost priority. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's address to the National Assembly on August 15 focused on the War On Terror and sought to remove ideological and political differences amongst the leadership of the country by seeking the Opposition's cooperation. The prime minister correctly identified militancy as the biggest threat facing Pakistan and effectively combined the carrot and stick approach by vowing to establish the writ of the government at all costs whilst pledging to enter into political dialogue with those who were ready to lay down their arms. He made the poverty-militancy nexus argument by saying that people were being lured into extremism because of the lack of education, economic development and other basic amenities of life. As we enter the 62nd year of Pakistan's independence, there is a hope of a new beginning. President Musharraf's appropriate (though delayed) decision to resign means that the government apparatus can now finally be geared towards two interlinked issues of utmost priority " the threat of militancy and the economic crisis. There is no time to lose and a lot depends on the way that our political leadership is able to work jointly and quickly in the next few months in the larger interest of the nation. The writer is an academic