My dear Muhammad Ali: You are seeing the world change before your eyes. Savour every moment of it. Listen to people, read newspapers, hear opinions, suffer analyses, but what's much more important is to keep your mind open - and your eyes and ears too. Don't let others do the thinking for you by simply parroting what you have read or heard, unless you agree with it and consider it good. Think for yourself and think things through, free of emotion, prejudice, hearsay and wishful thinking. Only then will you properly understand and come to the correct conclusions. This is the moment when the objective conditions on the ground are ripe for massive change. The question is: is Obama the man to make this moment his? For when the man and the moment meet the paradigm shifts and history is made. Obama's problems fall into two broad categories, problems more horrendous than any US president has ever faced. One is to turn the rising tide of extremism and militancy (he doesn't use the phrase War On Terror) and prevent it from overwhelming the world. The other is to prevent a global economic collapse. On both fronts the US and its allies are failing badly for the simple reason that they refuse to take their heads out of the quagmire and accept that unless they justly solve the root causes that engender militancy they will continue to lose until they drown in the quicksand. Obama's brilliant campaign rhetoric was a welcome change from the tongue-tied, incoherent Bush. But rhetoric is all very well. Deeds speak louder than words. Though we can only be sure of his direction after a few months we can see the broad contours of where he is going. He has shown, inevitably, that people change doesn't necessarily mean policy change only style change. Policies change with watershed events. But no harm in still hoping that yet another hope doesn't become a hopeless hope, dashed on the fearsome rocks of the US establishment and the various syndicates that represent powerful interests, not least the far right, the corporate establishment and the Zionist and Neocon lobbies that often work together. Obama's actions thus far send mixed signals. Some of his appointments like that of a virtual-Israeli as chief of staff leaves one askance. To balance it off, he is appointing an alleged "Israel hater" to head the National Intelligence Agency. Richard Holbrooke as envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan but not India shows a lack of the realism needed to get America out of Afghanistan in one piece - head in the quagmire syndrome again. India, one is told, was initially part of Holbrooke's brief, but when it threw its usual tantrum America backed off. On the verge of bankruptcy and possible collapse, its about time America started seeing sense and stopped mollycoddling Israel and India. There can be no solution to its Afghan quagmire if Indian meddling and mischief there and in Pakistan doesn't stop. Neither will 'terrorism' here go away without a just solution to Kashmir. Then there's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The lady doesn't even know Pakistan's political system, considering it is one of America's most important allies. After Benazir's assassination she "produced this gem," says Thomas Houlahan, director of the Military Assessment Programme at the Centre for Security and Science. "I think it will be very difficult to have a real election. You know, Nawaz Sharif has said he's not going to compete. The PPP is in disarray with Benazir's assassination. [Pervez Musharraf] could be the only person on the ballot. I don't think that's a real election." Commented Houlahan: "Then it hit me. Senator Clinton really didn't know that the upcoming elections were for individual seats in Pakistan's Parliament. She actually believed that Bhutto, Nawaz and Musharraf would be facing off as individual candidates for leadership of the country in the upcoming elections." Be charitable, Thomas. Hillary is no Bill. The new treasury secretary - not to put too fine a point on it - is a small-time tax evader. He says it was a mistake. So either America has a treasury secretary who doesn't even know how to file his tax return or he is a tax thief - terrible both ways. Remember though that Obama more then anyone other president has to balance the many lobbies and pressure groups around him. Remember too that at the end of the day it is the president who takes the final decision: no chief of staff or secretary of state or defence or vice president can force him to do anything. But if Obama does even half of what he says he intends to the world will change for the better. I hasten to add though that on rescuing the US economy (and thereby the global economy) he is on the wrong track - the Bush track with steroids. Another $788 billion bailout of a financial system made hollow by termite bankers on top of Bush's $700 billion? That's worse than throwing good money after bad. It's like throwing the baby out with the bathtub. "Let them fall by the wayside," says free market capitalism, "and let better, efficient institutions emerge run by better, balanced and less dishonest people. You have to be true to your creed. It's the law of the jungle - survival of the fittest. What would happen if the lion starts caring for the hog, the dog for the cat and the cat for the mouse?" He has to let the corrupt and the greedy pay for their misdeeds. He has to remove Satan from the banking system. He has to learn to live within his means. Now that everyone is going socialist, give the poorest homes, don't make them buy homes on borrowed money, for that is only creating an illusion of wellbeing. He has to craft a new economic and financial system with effective government oversight and participation. That's the fear of the right and far right, that America will go 'pink', meaning socialist. In the rare happenstance that Obama is one of those freak politicians who mean what they say, stick to it and try and find fair and balanced solutions to global problems, then we can continue to hope. If he doesn't, then history will record that he was good at verbal dexterity that made people feel good for a time but poor at delivery. His willingness to talk to adversaries, real or perceived, like Iran, is refreshing. It seems, especially after Mumbai and Gaza, that he realises that force doesn't solve anything. It only creates more terrorism. He realises that Palestine and Kashmir are nuclear flashpoints and the only way to solve them is through solving disputes justly, which means there must be something in it for everyone with injustice to none. So he must appoint a special envoy for Kashmir. Forget India's Simla-based pretence that it is a bilateral issue. America has to come in to overcome India's intransigence. Obama must realise that in order to assure the Palestinians and the Kashmiris that he is looking for just solutions he must stop pandering to Israel and mollycoddling India. The world has had enough of spoilt brats. So long as he holds true to what he says and seriously searches for just solutions, we - Pakistan and the Muslim world - should help him. He is trying to claim the moral high ground by announcing the closure of Guantanamo Bay and other concentration camps and follow due process. Obama must recognise how much Pakistan has done for America. You cannot erase history, like Richard Armitage saying: "History begins now." That's errant nonsense and a disgrace to bodybuilders who normally are very intelligent people. Learn from history. Recognise that most of the terrorism in our country has roots outside - Kashmir, Afghanistan, the Eighties Jihad and Israel. If that's the direction he takes then Pakistan must help him too. An unstable Afghanistan is not in our interest. Neither is an unstable India. Ruled by people with primitive mindsets, they become even worse. With the Indian elections looming, if the Hindu fascist ethnic cleansing BJP wins we will have another neighbour with a primitive mindset - even worse if that Muslim-Christian killer Narinder Modi becomes its prime minister. China is the only sensible neighbour we have because they have great self-esteem born of true independence and a pride based on realism, not illusion. Which is why America respects them too, however grudgingly. The taste of the pudding lies in the eating, not look or aroma. Because of his rhetoric it has become a truism that Obama's big problem is that expectations of him are too high, just as because of their track records it is truism to say that expectations of our democratically elected governments are zero. Ours have lived down to those expectations beautifully. Here's hoping that Obama can live up to the Great Expectations of him. The writer is a senior political analyst. E-mail: