Even after 64 years, we as a nation are searching for the roadmap of our cherished destiny envisioned by the Founding Father. Pakistan is faced with an existentialist threat from terrorism and religious extremism; national unity has been rent asunder by the rising monster of sectarianism; Karachi is in the clutches of land extortionist and drug mafias, who are engaged in turf wars; Balochistan is seething with insurgency; and the overall law and order situation of the country is absolutely precarious. The economy is in shambles. Pakistan, undoubtedly, is at the crossroads. The situation that we are facing today is an accumulative effect of the unimaginative policies pursued in the domain of foreign relations; perpetuation of the archaic colonial feudal system that encouraged politics of graft and bred corruption; irrational economic strategies that accentuated regional disparities; and frequent interventions by military adventurers, who not only destroyed State institutions, but also made conscious efforts to scuttle the chances of democracy to take root in the country. The decision by Pakistan to side with the West in the cold war era by joining the alliances of SEATO and CENTO against a neighbouring superpower (former Soviet Union) ostensibly to address its security concerns was the most irrational policy option that has harmed the country beyond reckoning. Its security was almost compromised, as a result of U2 incident in the early sixties, and then the Soviet Union played a significant part in its dismemberment in 1971 by signing a defence pact with India. When the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, in 1979, Pakistan was dragged into the conflict to achieve US objectives. Consequently, it became a victim of Kalashnikov, drug and jihadi cultures, besides having to bear the burden of millions of Afghan refugees that created a myriad of social and ecological problems for the State. The creation of Taliban by the US and Pakistani intelligence services, our abject surrender to USA in the wake of 9/11, and joining the war on terror have created an existentialist threat for us. More so, despite having made unprecedented sacrifices in the Afghan war, we do not enjoy the trust of the US. It seems that the present meltdown in relations between the two countries is an inevitable consequence of the fact that the strategic interests of both the countries are poles apart. The US is only trying to promote its own interests remaining callously oblivious to Pakistans interests. It is, however, heartening to note that finally there is a discernible change in the way the Pakistani leadership looks at the relations between the two countries. Instead of listening and ungrudgingly submitting to US demands, the PM has reiterated that it was time for America to do more. The COAS also stressed that while Pakistan remained committed to the war, it had the sovereign right to formulate policies in accordance with its national interests. So, the strategy to remain engaged with the US and avoid confrontational path while asserting our own viewpoint, is a welcome change in the overall equation of relations between the two countries. The growing focus on relations with the regional countries is also an encouraging portent. Gilani, during his recent visit to Iran, said: There is a paradigm shift in Pakistans foreign policy and it now wants close relations with neighbours.Iran was one of those countries with which it would like to have very close relations. The paradigm shift pointed out by the PM was long overdue. The fact that it has come at last is quite evident from the visits made by the President and PM to China during the last three years; the efforts to join SCO as permanent member; Presidents visit to Dushanbe to participate in the quadrilateral summit; and the PMs visit to Kazakhstan. The outcome of these visits is that China is working on 17 energy projects in Pakistan; Russia evinced keen interest in investing millions of dollars in projects like TAPI pipeline; Kazakastan has shown willingness to invest in energy projects; and Iran has agreed to provide 1,000MW of electricity and expedite work on the IP project. All these countries, including Pakistan, have complementary economies and a tremendous economic potential awaits to be unleashed for the collective good of people of these countries. The economic linkages and connectivity between the regional countries will not only change the economic situation of people, but also strengthen the security environment in the region. On the internal front, lot of work has been done through the collective effort of political parties represented in Parliament, while the Supreme Court has blocked the way for more military adventurism. We also need to change the way we are governed and find amicable solutions to the problems in Balochistan and Karachi, and also put in place a long-term economic strategy that is in consonance with the ground realities. These are intractable problems due to a number of internal and external factors, and the government cannot handle them single-handeedly. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: ashpak10@gmail.com