US President Barack Hussein Obama, who comes from a Muslim family of Kenya from his father's side, has extended an olive branch to the government and the people of Iran, after 30 years of extremely hostile relations between Iran and the United States following the Islamic Revolution in the country in 1979. In response, the Supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmedinejad have given a positive signal to President Obama's historic initiative. Until now Iran was the most hated nation in America ever since the US embassy was destroyed by the Islamic revolutionaries in 1979 and the American staff was held hostage. The moving spirit of the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini called America Shaitan-e-Buzurg the 'Great Devil'. President Obama's move to open friendly dialogue with Iran is a defining moment in US foreign policy which will change the entire dynamics of US relations with the Middle East, particularly the lingering sectarian strife in Iraq as well as in Beirut in which Iran is a major player. Obama's initiative has refreshed many memories of the Iranian Revolution which was raging at its peak when as the head of a PTV camera team I arrived in Tehran on February 7, 1979, just six days after the triumphant return of the hero of the revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini from exile in Neauphle-la-Chteau, about twenty five miles from Paris. The Ayatollah received a tumultuous welcome by a delirious crowd of millions, the like of which had never been witnessed in Iran. Khomeini spent eighteen years in exile in Iraq; the very country against which he waged a ferocious war for nine years after his ascendancy to supreme power in Iran. On February 1, General Ziaul Haq decided to avail the first opportunity to get in touch with the leaders of the revolution in Iran through the media. As a result of this decision, a delegation of senior journalists including the late A T Chaudhry, Arif Nizami, Maqbool Sharif and a few others accompanied by a PTV team was sent to Iran by a special flight to write about the revolution and also interview Ayatollah Khomeini. The day after our arrival in Tehran, we met Foreign Minister Mr Sanjabi who advised us to go to Qom, where Ayatollah Khomeini would be reaching the following day and get in touch with his son-in-law Mr Bahishti who looked after his personal affairs. The small sleepy town of Qom, a few hours drive from Tehran is the seat of religious learning where Ayatollah Khomeini studied and later taught in a madrassah now dedicated to his name. Ayatollah Khomeini was to address his first public meeting after his arrival in Iran in the spacious compound of his spartan madrassah which was turned into a fortress under the strictest possible security arrangements. Ayatollah Khomeini appeared in the bulletproof enclosure and stood there silently waving to the crowd for a few minutes with tears rolling down his cheeks and onto his white beard. These few minutes seemed like an eternity, and let loose a wave of frenzy as people wailed, beat their breasts and tore their hair, in delirious abandon till the Ayatollah sat down on a chair and started his speech with verses from the Holy Quran. He spoke in a soft well-modulated voice which had a hypnotic effect on the crowd. It seemed as if everybody went into a trance and listened to the forty-minute speech in pin drop silence 0except a few full-throated slogans "death to the Shah" and "death to America" which reflected the real spirit behind the revolution. We stayed back in Qom trying our best to record Khomeini's interview, but nobody in close circle of the Ayatollah was willing to make any commitment. Finally, when we were able to contact the Ayatollah's son-in-law, he apologised saying that the Imam does not give TV interviews. He however said that a few minutes could be arranged for the Pakistani media delegation to get the Imam's message for the people of Pakistan. He made it clear that this would not be an interview and no questions will be allowed. The next day we were taken to the madrassah, where we were presented to the Ayatollah Khomeini in a heavily guarded small room. He gave his message in a soft almost inaudible voice calling upon all Muslim nations to forge unity among them, to fight against the devilish conspiracies of the western powers particularly the United States. He also urged Pakistan to safeguard the rights and religious beliefs of the Shia community. On our return to Pakistan, I produced a one hour documentary on the Islamic Revolution in Iran which included rare shots of the chaotic situation in Tehran, Ayatollah Khomeini's triumphant return to Iran and excerpts of his speech at Qom. Some priceless footage of the Iranian army's brutal crackdown on the brave people who had risen against the Shah, provided to us generously by the Iranian television, unfolded the real story of the undaunted courage and dogged determination of the defenceless people who through sheer strength of faith and revolutionary zeal stood up to the awesome might of the Iranian army and destroyed it completely. Only a day before this documentary was scheduled for telecast, a promo containing the highlights of the programme was aired on the national network. However it was so impressive and in fact so frightening, as all great revolutions are that General Zia decided against televising this bold documentary about a real Islamic Revolution which had overthrown the three thousand year old institution of Iranian monarchy protected by the most powerful army in the region. The writer is a former news director, PTV E-mail: