In the din of the Panama leak case, the focus from the real issue is being shouted down by many hyper nationalist; politicians and the media pundits. To me, the real issue is that for the first time, an elected government has declared that it’s time for introspection to find out what was wrong with our long-standing foreign and national security policy. It is simple that if there was nothing wrong with our policy, as the co-evolutionists wish us to believe, we wouldn’t be facing the multiple problems that we face today. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif was very candid at the Asia Society meeting in New York. He was maligned by a section of media and some opposition leaders for speaking up about what was wrong with us at the foreign public forum. He rightly said that the likes of Haqqani and Hafiz Saeed are liabilities for Pakistan. This correction in the Pakistan foreign policy accounts book was long overdue. Our security establishment has always told us unwisely that Haqqanis, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Hizbul Mujahideen are the assets which help us further our interests in Afghanistan and India. Without making this correction in the books, we cannot establish ourselves as a responsible and trustworthy country in the world. By admitting that Pakistan’s intervention in Afghanistan in the 80s was a grave mistake, Khawaja Asif has shown courage. The so-called analysts in the media try to remind us that Nawaz Sharif and Khawaja Asif`s father Khawaja Safdar were part of the Zia regime and hence they they have no locus standi now to blame General Zia for making the blunder of sponsoring insurgency in Afghanistan in collaboration with the US. Pakistan brought terrorists from all over the world in the name of jihad. What these analysts failed to comprehend is that with time, people change their thinking. This is also true for politicians who are not regimented and go through the process of change realising the past mistakes. To my friends who sit and pontify on talk shows in the evening, my advice is to go through the history of democratic evolution to understand the changes in the politician’s stance on the issue of national importance. The FM’s critics blame him for talking Modi and Ashraf Ghani’s language. On the contrary, by accepting the real mistake of Pakistan in the 80s, Asif did put the entire terrorism issue in South Asia in the right perspective. Therefore, when he criticised the US for its harsh policies towards Pakistan, he was more convincing to the audience of the Asia Society and to the world at large. And implicitly, he is telling the US administration that Nawaz Sharif’s government is by and large on the same page as them when it comes to fighting the menace of terrorism. This message perhaps helped him get the US support on the question of stability of the government in Pakistan. This change in policies of Nawaz Sharif’s team appears to be the real reason behind his ouster through a controversial judgement of the apex court. But it is good that Nawaz Sharif chose to step down from the position of Prime Minister despite disagreement with the judgment of the Supreme Court, thus saving the parliament and insuring the continuation of the democratic system. There is no denying the fact that the Panama leak cases would continue to pressurise Sharif as there are elements of financial transaction that are not prima facie legitimate. Pakistan political history is witness to the fact that whenever civilian leaders tried to assert themselves in changing the foreign policy, which so far has been a sacred domain of the establishment, they have been booted out. All their efforts to normalise the relations with India and Afghanistan have been sabotaged. Take the decade of the 90s, for instance, when Ms Bhutto’s overtures to normalise the relations with Rajiv Gandhi were not tolerated. The change in policies of Nawaz Sharif’s team appears to be the real reason behind his ouster through a controversial judgement of the Apex court Next Nawaz Sharif tried to build bridges by inviting India’s BJP Prime Minister Vajpayee who publicly accepted that India wants to have good relations with Pakistan and has accepted the partition of the subcontinent. To undermine this move, the establishment launched Kargil adventure. When we started losing this battle, Nawaz Sharif was rushed to the US inviting them to intervene and bring peace. When the same architect of Kargil adventure President Musharaf tried to normalise relations with India and find an out-of-the-box solution for the Kashmir imbroglio, his own colleagues started intriguing against him. When President Zardari invited Afghanistan President Karzai to his swearing-in and made some statement sharing his vision on how to normalise the relations with India, the corruption skeletons from his closet were pulled out. And Lashkar-e-Taiba attacked Mumbai. Realising the situation Zardari backed out from taking foreign policy decisions with the objective of completing the elected government tenure. Lastly, Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to build relations with Prime Minister Modi were foiled by terrorist attacks on Pathan Kot and Uri. When the civilian government showed its displeasure over patronage of the terrorist groups and made it public through Dawn Leaks, he was a security risk and had to be taught a lesson. So it has been the snake and ladder game when it comes to normalising the relations with India and Afghanistan. All the leaders who tried to climb this ladder for peace have been bitten down. The writer is author of What’s wrong with Pakistan and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, October 9th 2017.