Pakistan has worked itself in a squeeze between two fundamentalists: the United States of America and the "Taliban". The former believes in its ideals and its Manifest (read Imperial) Destiny as if they were ordained by God Almighty, while the latter derive their mandate from the Word in the Holy Quran as they deem to interpret it. Both believe in imposing their doctrines through violent means. Both are engaged in a brutal bloody war with each other. The United States is a mighty superpower which had hardly ever lost a war in its young history until it suffered its first major defeat in Vietnam. The retreat of its armed might, called "Strategic withdrawals", followed from Lebanon, Somalia and other places and currently one is in progress from Iraq as a result of armed resistance by the natives of those lands. The American and NATO military commanders correctly hold that military victory is not possible in Afghanistan where they are facing formidable guerilla resistance. They call their war against the people of Afghanistan as a war against Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Throughout history, the people of Afghanistan have defeated all types of adventurers seeking imperial domination over them. Indeed they have named a mountain range in their land: the Hindu Kush (Hindu killer) to celebrate their victories against the mighty kings of highly advanced Indian civilization over a period of thousands of years. After frustrating the military ventures of the British in the nineteenth, the Soviets' in the twentieth and the American in the twenty-first centuries, they might rename their land as Farangi kush. The Pushto speaking tribes living on the western border of Pakistan and the eastern border of Afghanistan, maintaining their separate tribal entity are, as a whole Afghans for all practical purposes. No immigration barriers, no currency regulations and no custom barriers, across what is now Pak-Afghan border, have existed between them throughout the ages. No laws of Islamabad or Kabul, overriding their tribal autonomy, apply over them irrespective of the pretences of the two capitals. One son of a family may join Afghan air force while the other son may be serving the defence establishment of Pakistan; the Afghans are so astute that a third son may choose to remain "neutral". In the prevailing complex situation of American-Afghan war, no wonder that the divided loyalties of the elites of Pakistan have placed the government, they preside over on the horns of a terrible dilemma. The elites comprise the leaderships of civil and military services and their associates in the business community and landed and political aristocracy. They find it perilous to decide which of the two fundamentalist they should support. For decades, they have positioned the state of Pakistan perennially dependent on the assistance from America and international financial development institutions. For the purchase of crucial armaments for defence forces they also depend upon the United States. They show by their conduct that their loyalty to the United States is essential for their existence. On the other hand, the elites of Pakistan are obliged to compromise their loyalty to the United States by not acting against the opinion of an overwhelming majority of the people of Pakistan. The people consider America as the enemy harbouring evil intentions against Pakistan and Islam. The people believe that the government at Islamabad is a client of the US government and on that count they refuse to cooperate with the government to prevent attacks even on their on police and military personnel. Another vital handicap: the government of Pakistan no longer has available the services of a machinery of the state as it once had in the days of governor General Ghulam Mohammad or dictators Ayub Khan or Zia-ul-Haq. What is available to Zardari-Gilani and company is a huge mostly corrupted mass of bureaucratic structure with shattered morale brought about by corruption at upper levels of the civilian ruling elites. Now, Pakistan need not be a client state. It is not a small country, its area is large. Its population of more than 160 million is alive and kicking - for the present in non-constructive mode. It is not a weak country as none of its neighbours, Iran, Afghanistan, China or India, have ever entertained the notion of dominating it militarily. Above all, Pakistan is not a poor country. Year after year, it is a net exporter of capital of about 4 to 8 billion dollars through legal and illegal channels. In the early seventies, following the 1971 war defeat and in the teeth of opposition from the United States with zero financial assistance from Washington, the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was able to make the country proudly stand on its own in a two-and-a-half-year period. What Pakistan needs today is a federal state structure which derives its power from the provinces, a democratic governance in which people can protect their life and property and dispense justice just as they do in North American and Scandinavian countries along with a fresh set of laws to govern property relations to prevent wanton loot and plunder by proprietary classes and above all, a foreign policy change which removes from it the stigma of being a client state of the USA. And that is the only way to come out of the squeeze Pakistan has worked itself in. We may also keep in mind that the United States would every time prefer a friendly upright and dignified state over a client state. E-mail: