GENERAL (RETD) MIRZA ASLAM BEG  Pakistani nation is passing through a difficult period of transition from the existing status quo order to a liberal democratic order, as mandated by the people on February 18, 2008. The difficulty gets compounded as the internal and external forces get engaged to set-up a manipulated democratic order in Pakistan. The example of Algeria, Turkey, Palestine and now Nepal, is fresh in our memory. As in Palestine, the Hamas and Al-Fateh game is likely to be enacted in Pakistan. The story thus begins. After many years of confrontational politics, the grand alliance of PPP. PML-N, ANP and JUI had given hope to the people for political stability and a robust democratic order, but that is not preferred by the powers to be. The February 18 mandate of the people was not to the liking of the USA. More specifically, the emergence of the Muslim League (N) as a majority party in the biggest province of the country - Punjab - was beyond their expectations and therefore not acceptable. Nawaz Sharif consequently is the target. Without mincing words, the Americans have dubbed him as "a dangerous person, to be watched." President Bush has gone to the extent of making slanderous remarks about him, saying that Nawaz Sharif does not possess the requisite capability to understand the dynamics of domestic and regional geopolitical trends. The Washington Times, a CIA-sponsored paper, contains the remarks of its editor: "Nawaz Sharif tops the list of the America haters." Only few days back, a panel of analysts of the US Congress, in their briefing made rather blunt remarks about Nawaz Sharif, saying: "He is a dangerous man to be watched." All these testify to the fact that Nawaz Sharif has become a marked person in the corridors of US power. Also General (retd) Pervez Musharraf bears a chronic grudge against him. The conspiracy against Nawaz Sharif was initiated by first trying to change the leadership of Q-League so that it could be acceptable to the PPP. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain being a shrewd politician sensed the conspiracy and did not oblige the manipulators. Recently he was called by the president, to know his mind, but he made it clear, that, he will not be a party to the de-stabilisation of the Punjab government. And now the appointment of Salman Taseer as governor has triggered a new wave of conspiracies, whereas, I see the emergence of greater unity and consensus among the people of Punjab against such conspiracies. Under these situational imperatives, it would be wise on the part of Nawaz Sharif to refrain from taking steps that may lend justification to the conspiring forces to take advantage. He does appear cool and composed and is conducting himself with caution. The conspiracy is very conspicuous, if one takes into account, out-rightly unethical remarks and the constant interference in our internal affairs by USA, which began with the Deal with late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The salient aspects of the Deal were that she would form the government and General (retd) Musharraf would be its integral part as the president of the country. And through a constitutional package, they will mitigate, all the unconstitutional and illegal "acts" committed by him as army chief, such as Emergency, the deposition of the respected judges of the Supreme Court, the promulgation of the NRO to dry-clean the leaders of PPP and other parties charged with cases of corruption pending against them. Thus, they are trying to pay-back by lending support and cooperation to USA, to fulfil its strategic objectives. The impending constitutional package, which will provide constitutional cover to all his misdeeds, also amounts to providing Army a permanent political role. In return, therefore, the government so formed, would provide full support to the so-called War on Terror launched by USA. In the province of the Punjab, PPP was advised not to play a pre-dominant role and to let Q-League emerge as a majority party. In other words, the plan was for Q-League government in the Punjab, PPP-MQM in Sindh, ANP in NWFP and Q-League-MMA in Balochistan. However, when Mohtarma arrived in Pakistan on October 18, 2007, and gauged the ground realities, it occurred to her that it was not possible to comply with the requirements of the Deal. It became impossible for her to operationalize it, as she never wanted that Punjab should go to Q-League, nor she was prepared to accept President Musharraf as part of the Deal, for that would have amounted to committing a political suicide. As she had disagreed to give final shape to the deal, she was removed from the scene. Now, it is expected of her political descendent Asif Ali Zardari, to do the needful, in return for numerous gratifications. This is the reason why initially he endorsed the Charter of Democracy and the Murree Declaration, solemnly promising to restore the deposed judges within thirty days. But subsequently on the ground of "constitutional imperatives," he delayed the decision, by holding the dialogue first in Islamabad, then Dubai and lastly in London. While they were in Dubai, the American political manipulators were present there, watching the outcome of the dialogue. In London, Richard Boucher deemed it expedient to be present himself, knowing full well that the Pakistani politicians have no inhibitions in allowing foreigners to interfere in their internal affairs, which indeed is a sad predicament, incongruent to our national Ethos. After the failure of the London dialogue, the reactions of Mr Zardari are of importance. Therefore, for Mr Nawaz Sharif, it is expedient to consolidate his position in the Punjab, and despite disagreements with Q-League, he must show political sagacity in improving the relations, so that his political support-base remains intact, to play crucial role in the future. As far as the issue of the deposed judges in concerned, Nawaz Sharif, indeed did his best to achieve the objective but failed. Similar is the issue of the president, whether he should continue holding this post or not. These issues will then drift into the people's court, if our politicians fail to resolve their differences because, the malady would spread so wide that only the people could provide the remedy, and the verdict by the people are usually very harsh. Our middle class, today is very conscious of its rights and alive to the realities. The lawyers, the media and the intellectuals have steered a campaign, which has provided new dynamism to the nation and stirred their conscience. The weak and the deprived segments of the country is utterly frustrated, as they no longer have the hope of getting justice from the courts. On the top of it are the problems of hunger, disease, inflation and flour and energy crises. The government, it appears, is handicapped due to strings being pulled by the president and nothing practical is being done to implement new plans. Therefore, the people would join the lawyers, media and political parties like APDM, PML-N, to fight for their rights. Thus the national force would be mobilised and Mr Zardari would be compelled to get out of the clutches of the deal and face the people and their judgement. The people may not give him time and opportunity to drift from his commitments, and would not renege or relent in their resolve to change the fate of the country and restore the system of governance based on the pillars of justice, fairness and equity. On our north-western borders, efforts are being made to achieve understanding with the tribals and militants and to an extent, it is bearing fruitful results. But our tribals and the Talibans are firm in their demands that the commitments made must be firmly implemented, unlike the past. They are now demanding that Zardari and Nawaz Sharif both should give them firm assurances that whatever the commitments are made would be honoured. PPP is not free, politically or psychologically as it carries the baggage of NRO, gifted by the USA and Musharraf. The only people who are free are Nawaz Sharif and APDM. If Asif Zardari were also free, it would have made the real difference. Mr Zardari, therefore must swim with the main current, as advised by our respectable scholar Mr Ata-ul-Haq Qasmi: "It is my wish that you get out of the politics of fear and launch a direct attack on the establishment which was instrumental in the hanging of Bhutto; Mian Nawaz Sharif had to encounter the pains of prison as well as deportation; Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was assassinated; thousands of political activists were tortured; thousands of Pakistanis were repatriated and sold to the Americans. They are now trying to keep you under ransom. Whereas, your one act of defiance can relieve you of the agony of fear, as well as free the nation from the bondage of slavery." Time is a floating reality. It does not wait for any one. Therefore the right decisions taken in time, would reflect the "will" and resolve of the leader. The psyche of the people reflects that they want change and a new political order, to give them the sense of dignity and purpose in life. I only hope that our national leaders keep in step with the forces of change, which has become inevitable. The writer is chairman FRIENDS E-mail: