Recently, the Prime Ministers of Turkey and Pakistan 'vowed for joint efforts to face international and regional challenges. This is a dream that every Muslim has and nurtures. If memory serves right, the idea of Muslim unity politically was attributed to Liaquat Ali Khan, the first PM of Pakistan. Ideologically, the concept of Ummah is the basic theme in the Holy Quran, but we pay only lip service to the idea. No Muslim leader has tried to put the idea into practical shape. Bhutto had convened a Muslim Summit at Lahore and hopes were kindled that the Ummah may become united politically. But alas Hopes and dreams of Muslim unity were shattered; the dream of a Muslim 'Block vanished with the assassination of Liaquat Ali and hopes of Muslim unity died with the hanging of Bhutto. So, the 'vow made by the PMs of Turkey and Pakistan have rekindled the old hopes. If they are able to move in this direction even one step, Muslims will move one step closer to that ideal. But what are the challenges facing their respective countries; both PMs did not specify. The challenges can be classified as country-specific or the ones confronting the Muslim community collectively. Country-specific challenges can best be overcome by the respective countries; friendly countries can provide diplomatic and moral support. At this point in time, Turkey is facing the resistance from the West against its bid to become a full member of the EU. Iran is facing the US-led challenge of political, diplomatic and economic isolation. Pakistan is embroiled in the anti-terror war within its boundaries and internal instability, which weigh heavily on its economic development. These challenges only individual countries can meet, others may be able to assist them to successfully face such challenges. The real challenges are those which the Muslim community is facing collectively. These are multi-directional and affect the community in totality. These challenges are ideological, economic and political. Though on surface these appear as facing Muslim countries individually, but are in essence collective and need a collective response. There was a time when the Ummah faced all challenges in unison whenever any of its components was exposed to danger. There were no barriers to movements across the Muslim lands, despite the fact that various tracts of land were under different political control. This all changed after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and emergence of nation states. Now, the Ummah stands aloof and unconcerned when individual countries are subjected to political, economic, diplomatic, and even military pressures. As a result of this individual psyche, we have become subservient to alien ideology, social. The modern political philosophers have divided the world in eastern and western civilisations and call the ongoing conflict a 'clash of civilisations; in fact it is the clash of ideologies. Now, the clash has reached to its zenith. The clash between the West and the East had started on November 25, 1095CE, when Pope Urban II rallied the First Crusade against the Muslims at the Council of Clermont. English author Karen Armstrong calls it a crucial and formative event for the western Europe, whose repercussions are felt even today. The mounting of crusades was the physical manifestation of ideological clash. The observation of Ms Armstrong hits one in the face, when one recalls the initial speech of Bush Jr after USAs attack on Iraq - he had described the attack as the beginning of a new crusade. The West, as it stands today, professes a capitalistic ideology, which dominates its social, economic and political values. This ideology moves around the capital, as the central social theme; it propagates accumulation of wealth in a few hands and making the rest of the society subservient to it. In a capitalistic society, the few who control the wealth control everything. This system works on the principle of 'end justifies the means. Today, the clash is in evidence because the West wants to impose this ideology on ME and the rest of the Muslim world through the power of the gun and other means at its disposal. In this social system, man is central to everything and has reached the peak of his evolution, as a neocon scholar Fukuyama describes it in his famous book The End of History, thus, in the western ideology man is not answerable to anyone for his actions. Islamic ideology, on the other hand, describes man as the Reagent or Viceroy (Khalifa) of his Creator - Allah Almighty - and represents Him on the earth. He is responsible and accountable for his actions and deeds and will be rewarded or punished accordingly. This system demands equality in all human activity and calls for equal distribution of wealth and dispensation of social justice for all. It demands that 'the means justify the end. Thus, it hits at the core values of capitalism as an ideology. The West believes in a liberal, secular (read Godless) and free-for-all society: Islamic ideology is totally opposed to this concept. This clash of ideology has assumed a new dimension after the fall of communism. Now, Islam is being projected as a radical concept opposed to civil liberty and secularism. This gives the West a reason to wage war against the ideological enemy. So, this challenge needs a collective response from the Ummah; no country can face it individually. At this point in time collective effort is lacking, only a few scholars and organisation are responding to it. The entire Muslim community needs to mobilise all its scholars and use all organs of the media to project the true and practical facets of Islam. We lack this ability because the Ummah is divided in thought and actions. It needs a collective and effective body to collate, direct and execute the response to ideological challenge. Politico-economic exploitation is the second dimension of the collective challenge. This exploitation had started with the subjugation of the East as colonies. It erupted with full force with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The exploitation of Arab oil resources is well documented and does not need any repetition. Order to keep their hold on these resources, the West has cultivated the rulers on the western thought and developed ME as a consumption-oriented society. This gives West the chance to exploit the natural resource as well as the revenue from it. The Ummah, thus, stands to lose all. To keep control on this energy source, the West can go to any limit. So, what should Muslims do to face this challenge? It is a collective challenge and needs a collective response. The road to the solution of all Muslim problems is long and arduous. It demands sacrifices at personal, national and community levels. The Muslims have not realised their power potential or are too meek to demonstrate it. Muslim countries sit over watching the Strait of Jabal-ut-Tariq in the West to the Melaka Straits in the East. They dominate the central region of the 'old world and are contiguous. With Central Asian Muslim Republics, they have more than 75 percent of world energy sources and dominate all trade outlets and inlets. With such potential with them, they have the wherewithal to make themselves heard in the world. Three countries - Turkey, Iran and Pakistan - are so located that they dominate 'West, Centre and East of the region and can play a significant role to unite this region with an international Muslim body, as their United Muslim Organisation promoting peace, trade and development in the region. Turkey has taken the first step; it has entered into free trade agreements with Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. This is a positive beginning. Turkey must expand this pact to include all the Muslim countries of the region. Gradually, the Muslim countries should form a Free Trade Zone in the region scraping trade and travel barriers. This will pave way for Muslim nations United Nations making the existing UNO a redundant body for the Muslims. Only then Muslims will achieve the dignity, prestige and respect in the world. We will be the masters of our lives and resources; and we will be able to face the challenges. If we cannot do that, we will remain at the mercy of those who nurture perpetual hate for us. We cannot live honourably in the world by defying Allahs commandment in Al-Quran V-51. Sooner or later the Muslims will have to embark on this road to glory and be ready to make the sacrifices; the sooner we unite under collective Muslim banner the better. The writer is a freelance columnist.