We are living in very challenging times, constantly facing the negative impact of developments taking place across the borders and the turmoil within, caused by bad governance, institutional conflict, corruption, rising inflation, deprivation and insurgency. The situation, compounded by unprecedented floods, has caused despondency and despair, especially in the minds of the people, desiring for 'change. Change is needed, no doubt, but not through military intervention, nor through street violence, but through the constitutional democratic process, so that the democratic order is sustained, strengthened and buttressed. That is the process which has set into motion, to correct the course. The external negative forces impacting life in Pakistan have gradually taken a U-turn. For example Iran, which has been facing US pressures since 1979 through sanctions and embargoes; aggression by Iraq; threat of war by Israel, and induced ethnic riots to cause strained relations with Pakistan, have failed to deter the Iranian leadership from signing the eight billion dollar gas pipeline deal with the Pakistan government. The US administration having realised that they cannot bend or break the Iranian will, now are seeking their help to find a safe exit from Afghanistan. This is a positive change for Pakistan, Iran and also for peace in the region. Similarly in Afghanistan, the US and its allies - having failed in their attempts to again cheat the Taliban, of their victory - are now seeking dialogue with them, obviously for a safe exit. This is also a positive change for Pakistan, because the exit of the occupation forces from Afghanistan will remove the curse of Indian intrusion into the land of the pure, as well as the ingress by the US marines, CIA and FBI in our border region allowed by Pervez Musharraf since 2002 - a shameful bartering away of our national interests. Their exit from Afghanistan will also bring to an end the ongoing war on terror with our own tribals, induced by the joint conspiracy of CIA and RAW. These developments are very significant for Pakistan, demanding reori-entation of our policies and priorities with regard to Afghanistan, India and the US. Next, for the last 60 years, India has let loose a reign of terror in the occupied Kashmir, killing over 100,000 Kash-miris since 1990. State terrorism is now being confronted by the civil disobedience movement of the Kashmiri people, which has unnerved the Indian occupation forces numbering over 700,000. The state of conflict and confrontation between India and Pakistan, which has lasted for over 62 years, is coming to an end now. However, it is possible only after an amicable settlement of the dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir and not so-called 'out of the box solution offered by the outgoing dictator. So the external factors, which kept Pakistan hostage to conspiracies for long, are now melting away - one by one. It was in this background that the people of Pakistan voted in favour of democracy on February 18, 2008, expecting that the rule of law would prevail, and the rich and the poor would get justice equally, but that was not to be. The institutional conflict, self-interest of the corrupt rulers, bad governance, deprivation and indifference to the needs of the common people have caused such despondency and despair that the Pakistanis are now clamouring for change which has become inevitable. How this change will occur will be interesting to know, as it would demolish the conspiracy for setting up a pro-establishment government at the behest of proxy powers. Indeed, the instruments of change are the national institutions, such as the judiciary, armed forces, media and civil society. That have previously struggled to demolish dictatorship and established the democratic order. And now stand together to play their role and provide safeguards to the democratic order. Although the judiciary had given its verdict on the NRO on December 16, 2009, the government has gone slow in its implementation, to the extent, of being defiant. More so, the court has shown patience and did not invoke Article 190 of the constitution, as was expected. Rather, the court chose to use other options available and ordered the Inspector General of Police to take the two NRO beneficiaries, Brig (retd) Imtiaz and Adnan Khawaja, behind bars and also ordered the Law Secretary and Attorney General to request the Swiss Court to appraise the reality with respect to the pending case. The process of change, thus, has set in to correct the course. Step by step it would demolish all the obstacles, which had stood in the way of implementation of the court orders. In this process of cleansing, Parliament has to play its due role and so has the opposition, which had become irrelevant for playing to the gallery. The Pakistani nation, today, stands at the crossroads holding its breath, while the national institutions, having galvanised themselves into action, are poised for their role. None can dissuade, nor detract them from the delicate path they have to tread, in order to bring about the much needed change. The change will strength national resolve and fortify democracy, with a message to the US in particular, that during the last 50 years, Pakistan has suffered a great deal and lost a lot of time and opportunity to progress, for being your friend. Its time now to re-orientate your priorities and become a real friend of Pakistan like China, who despite adhering to different ideologies has never declined its people-to-people contact. The same is the message for India, which is to dispel and discard the hostility of the decades, resolve the Kashmir dispute and follow the Chinese line. Miracles have occurred in the past and they can occur even now. The defeat of the two superpowers in Afghanistan at the hands of the Afghan freedom fighters, within a short period of three decades, is the miracle of the century. So is the emerging order in Pakistan, which stands to defeat all external and internal conspiracies through a peaceful process of change. The instruments of power, which became part of the nexus for regime change in the past, now are acting as the guarantors and protectors of democracy. Truly, change is the essence of life, to guarantee a meaningful existence. Subservience and servility must give way to a dignified existence of cooperation and 'real friendship. The writer is a former COAS, Pakistan. Email: friendsfoundation@live.co.uk