My dear Ali: I said in my last letter that America wanted President Musharraf out for five reasons but gave only four. The fifth is that America was upset with him for getting Observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, thus putting some of our eggs in the baskets of Russia and China, the two emerging poles that will soon challenge the single polar status of the USA. I also forgot to tell you one lesson. We have to become self-reliant. We must. There is no other option. Otherwise perpetual slavery stares us in the face. Thus, sacrifices must be made by the well off. The poor have nothing to sacrifice. So long as you spend more than you earn and live on borrowed money, so long will you not be truly independent, living only an illusion of artificial well being. A stage then comes when you will become totally dependent, having mortgaged your future and your soul to the devil, as we nearly have. There is no redemption from hell except repudiation, which requires revolution. You just cannot escape it, son. Not if you want to be a proud and independent nation. After last week's letter you asked whether our Army Chief General Kayani means what he says when he warns of retaliation if US-NATO soldiers raid Pakistani territory again. If it's a bluff, what if his bluff is called? The bluff was called last week when NATO helicopters tried to violate our airspace. After warning shots they retreated. We didn't blink. So relax. Kayani is a professional soldier. You don't become army chief without being baked in a piping hot oven of intense and extensive experience. Army chiefs don't make such statements lightly. The top brass consider all the pros and cons before doing anything. They know that if they retaliate the US could escalate the war. They know too that they won't be alone then. The Taliban, other militants and the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan will immediately become one, like a mailed fist, for they will be fighting for the liberation of Afghanistan from foreign occupation, just as they did in the Eighties against another superpower. Behind us will be China, perhaps Russia too, as then it was America. The US doesn't even have the numbers to control Afghanistan. How can they match this? A couple of days after the retaliation, Admiral Mullen came unscheduled to Islamabad. Morale skyrocketed. We had made the head of the most powerful military machine in the world "come running" to Pakistan. Don't fool yourself. While our leaders were talking with Mullen, NATO missiles were raining down on Pakistan. Look, America won't take this further. They can hardly handle Iraq and Afghanistan, how can they open another front against a country much larger than both of them put together with the strongest military in the Muslim world, nuclear-armed? What with its economy sinking into the morass of depression, not recession, it will be too hot to handle. As to forcing us to "rollback" our nuclear programme, what the hell does that mean? We are already a declared nuclear country. Rollback happens during development, like stopping enrichment. Iran is at the rollback stage; we are far beyond. Where will they take so many of our missiles and warheads? It's not that easy. They are disassembled and housed in several places, which are constantly changed. Missile brigades guard them. This is not child's play. There are only two ways they can feel comfortable with our nuclear assets, one silly, one sensible. The silly one is to get a puppet government here to allow IAEA full inspections and perhaps also let America have a position in our command and control authority. The sensible one is to accept and admit Pakistan in the international nuclear club, where it will have to adhere to all the safeguards that other club members do. But American foreign policy is not famous for being sensible. Don't worry about America's deputy foreign secretary Boucher or CIA chief Hayden wanting our ISI to the "reorganised". Hayden, apparently, has even presented a "plan" to the new rulers we have democratically elected to look after our sovereignty, integrity and ideological frontiers. The attempt to bring it under the Interior Ministry backfired. Look, son, who the rulers are doesn't matter. There is such a thing as the People. There is also such a thing as the national establishment. Politicians aren't its members. They think they run the country, but they actually work for the establishment without realising it. They can do what they like as long as they don't transgress our sovereignty, integrity and ideology (which they and most of our literate-uneducated are fuzzy about anyway), or let anyone else do so. If they do, they will be made mincemeat of. So don't worry. It's the CIA that needs reorganisation, what with its many failures, like not predicting 9/11. You were confused over our former chief of general staff Lieutenant General Shahid Aziz's purported statement that Musharraf kept the army in the dark and handed over Pakistanis to America. Shahid Aziz has denied it. It was nave of him to talk to a reporter, but I've told you that when it comes to real life retired generals (and bureaucrats) are innocents abroad who think that they are better at anything and everything than us "bloody civilians". When they parachute into reality at the end of their careers, the "bloody civilians" often give them a bloody nose. I've seen it happen time and again. Lost without a secretary and a driver, they try and escape anonymity by holding forth on television and in the press, thinking that we are all amnesiac fools. Anonymity is like death. The only way a man thinks he can beat mortality is by being known and recognised, forgetting that after his funeral rites are done and all the mourners have gone he will be forgotten anyway, unless he wins recognition for something good he has done for the country and the people. The bureaucrat who will never be forgotten is Akhtar Hameed Khan, who did so much for the poor. If your Dada is and will be remembered for anything, it is for his 'Translations From the Quran' and his television lectures on Islam. People talk of being charitable with those who finally see the light. But seeing the light like Abu Sufian the night before the conquest of Mecca makes one a hypocrite. Shahid Aziz is not a hypocrite. He is not seeking publicity. He sounds appalled at what happened. As a soldier and a gentleman he is top drawer. He is a good man and a great patriot who has been unfairly sullied because he innocently dived into an unfamiliar pool of sharks. That is all. People shouldn't make a big thing out of it just to embarrass Musharraf. They don't realise how much they damage the country in so doing. Sadly, we have rubbed out that fine line that divides national interest from national damage. That includes a small part of the media that tars the rest with the same brush. Look, son, there are three things you must know. Musharraf didn't keep the army in the dark on the War On Terror. Only those who are relevant are informed strictly on a need-to-know basis. The CGS knows whom the army arrests and hands over to the ISI. Thereafter it is none of his business for he doesn't need to know. No Pakistani caught in Pakistan was ever handed over to America. They took only those they caught in Afghanistan. We sent a Colonel Mukhtar to inspect Guantanamo and on his report got many Pakistanis released. We did allow electronic surveillance by drones. The missile attacks were unauthorised, Musharraf started reacting badly and his relationship with the US began souring. But as long as he was in power, no US or NATO soldier was ever allowed to set foot in Pakistan. Here's a piece of advice. Never worry about what others may think of you as long as you are sure that you are doing the right thing. You are not answerable to them but to God alone. I'll tell you a story that shows how the media can say something else while telling the truth. A pastor entered his donkey in a race. It won. He was so pleased that he entered it in a race again. It won again. The local paper read: "Pastor's ass out front." The bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the pastor not to enter his donkey in another race. The next day, the headline read: "Bishop scratches pastor's ass." This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey. The pastor decided to give it to a nun. Next day's headline read: "Nun has best ass in town." The bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10. The following day the paper read: "Nun sells ass for $10." This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild. The next day the headline screamed: "Nun announces her ass is wild and free." The bishop was buried the next day. The writer is a senior political analyst E-mail: