Samson Simon Sharaf In kite flying called Paecha, the biggest nightmare is to have the highly glazed string intertwined within your feet. It not only hampers the kite flying but also creates dangerous cuts, leaving the kite at the mercy of the winds and grabbers. Pakistan's present situation is worse. There are two many flyers holding the same string intertwined in their feet with an unaccountable number of urchins waiting for the string to snap. How can the kite be flown back safe? Pakistan's overall security situation in terms of law and order, economics and its fallout on society is precarious. It tends to reinforce international perceptions that Pakistan's internal dynamics situate an international threat. As levels of violence overflow the brim, there is demand from USA and UK to do even more. Caught in this kaleidoscope of conflicting demands, a conclusion is foregone. Pakistan will plunge from a fry pan into the fire. The much-touted policy of 'Pakistan First' has failed. The situation is both a maze and a crossword. Pakistan as an independent sovereign state armed with nuclear systems needs to do what is best in its own interests. In the backdrop of conflicting information, betrayals, overarching demands and political realism, the least our leaders can do is decide on a minimum national agenda and then pursue it relentlessly. It also means that a lot needs to be crossed out from the many copy and paste perceptions of the past to make a new and viable script. This new script must remove organisational biases, historical pre-dispositions and constructs framed to suit our own vision of the world. It is time that: "The statesman must think in terms of the national interest, conceived as power among other powers. The popular mind, unaware of the fine distinctions of the statesman's thinking, reasons more often than not in the simple moralistic and legalistic terms of absolute good and absolute evil" (Hans Joachim Morgenthau). So what are the ground realities? US war on terrorism has morphed into an expeditionary military occupation of Afghanistan. Despite all the advantages of technology and precision, coalition forces are confined to fortresses and venture out on selective basis. Open spaces are dominated by militants. Insufficient force levels with no visible political engagements raise many questions. Military composition suggests that USA will remain in the region for long. This policy of attrition through time delay is like a flesh-eating moth. The situation seems a reflection of the infamous deliberate 'Burnout Policy' published long ago in the Foreign Affairs. USA wilfully drew Afghanistan and now Pakistan into chaos. The conflict has conflagrated to NWFP and now threatens Punjab. Pakistan is seen as a waste treatment pit in which all colloidal must precipitate. The coinage AfPak implies Pakistan's relegation to a sceptic tank; Durand Line means nothing. The vanguard of Obama policy is the symbolic drone attacks widened into new areas, increased pressure on the political and military establishment and violence expanding to Punjab. USA in cahoots with political minimalists of Pakistan is on a dangerous road to curtail the over arching role of Punjab. USA will reserve its option of direct and indirect military intervention. The stark reality is that Pakistan's continued policy of appeasement has failed to address legitimate concerns. For long, US state and non-state actors have run overdrive with mixed signals. Pakistan's fragile political system provides a happy hunting ground for contradictions to breed. This activity peaks with familiar alacrity. Press leaks, high profile visits, sharp shooters in State Department, Pentagon and Centcom with sights on Pakistan Army and ISI. Finally, select academicians giving talks in Pakistani universities and returning with pulses. Name a furore and the pattern will not change. USA needs pivots against a rising China and resurgent Russia. It aims to control strategic spaces that threaten these rising centres as well as deny them strategic access to the Indian Ocean. As the notion of Af-Pakistan assumes currency we shall see the addition of others to this coinage. India will be used to downgrade Pakistan's military, agrarian and economic potential. Space for political manoeuvring and bargaining will be gradually denied. There are reports that Russia through training and equipment is already exploiting this imbroglio in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then there are countries directly or indirectly funding militancy. Over a period of time, too many brands of Taliban have emerged, each with purported controls elsewhere. Rise of militancy in Pakistan serves this game plan and policy makers in Pakistan do not seem to grasp the urgency. Lost in the old script, there is an obvious lack of wherewithal to take the bull by the horns and exercise initiative. The entire security policy is in a drift akin to a kite with a broken string. The damage to Pakistan's interests runs deeper than perceived. Obama despite an electoral stunt chooses to ignore the historical perspective that all Indo-Pakistan issues are linked to Kashmir. India that had no role in the anti-Soviet war of the 80s has emerged as a preferred US ally. Indian security and intelligence establishments benefit from a substantial presence in Afghanistan and create unrest in Pakistan through diverse armed groups. Though USA is quick to level allegations against Pakistan over links with whosoever opposed its policies, it remains unresponsive to complaints against what India does on Pakistan's reverse front. The message is clear. Succumb or we make a lesson out of you. All this has served to increase anti-US sentiments in Pakistan. Every Pakistani has allied with the growing perception that this war for democracy is in fact a frontal assault on Pakistan's political, defence and intelligence establishments. If agendas such as these are fatefully accomplished, Pakistan's geography and the nuclear story will become a tale of the past. Pakistan's leadership, economics and national integration are vulnerable. For sure, USA will never win this war in the manner it conducts. What of Pakistan? Away from the eyes of observers, the dirty game of intelligence and counter intelligence operations will continue with mutual betrayal. The burnout continues to conflagrate. Surging oil prices followed by an economic meltdown have added to Pakistan's fragility. Home grown speculators and imported economic managers played a treacherous game with Pakistan's sovereignty. A fiercely competitive domestic economy that withstood nuclear sanctions has been reduced to consumerism. Trillions of free-floating rupees have been lost to liberalism. Rising electricity and energy in-puts have made export production non-competitive. Industrial layoffs are endemic and chances of instrumentalism in society dwindling. Events could lead to discontentment, unrests and radicalisation. Insofar as Punjab, there appears commonality of interests between the political minimalist and USA. It is Pakistan's biggest province in terms of population, economic growth and representation in the national fabric. In backdoors, devolution of Punjab is seen most expedient. In the post 2008 dispensation, Punjab was singled out for manipulation and political instability. Had it not been for a national movement spearheaded by lawyers, it would have deteriorated to chaos. The sectarian militants known for their ferocity as far away as Eastern Europe, sit in Punjab, like a time bomb ticking away. These hardliners have learnt the art to manipulate many masters and to be controlled by none. Intelligence establishments world over have used them selectively. Rise of militancy in Punjab's urban centres is no coincidence and a sign of events to come. The intelligence agencies and the government need to keep a vigil on these militant groups, their off shore lines of funding, local businesses and foreign handlers. Karachi is a boiling pot and arm twister. The familiar drama has been played far too many times. All it needs is a wink to usher chaos. Balochistan, the future of Pakistan's prosperity is a victim of neglect and underdevelopment. Pakistan's biggest province in terms of size has suffered far too long for its sparse population. The fruits of Gwadar have not been equitably distributed. Promising development projects like gold, copper and iron are held back for unknown reasons. Rather than address the issues politically, socially and economically, the province is at the mercy of mercenaries, self-styled war lords, foreign hands and stubborn policy makers. Addressing the concurrent list could solve most issues in Balochistan. As a final word, restoration of the post November 2 judiciary is a good omen and other positive developments must emanate from herein. A national reconciliation could begin through consensus on immediate security issues and pending agendas like the concurrent list in the constitution. Pakistan's role as an ally of USA needs review. Economic hedging must be enforced. The Government of Pakistan must draw its strength from the people. As Hans Joachim Morgenthau said: "National power rises from a relatively stable foundation of geography, through different gradations of instability to its peak in the fleeting elements of national character and morale." Pakistanis from all across the spectrum need to rise to the challenge. It is indeed the time to eat grass. The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army and a political economist E-mail: