IT does not promote confidence in the working of the coalition government when its prominent leaders take contradictory stands in public on a vital issue like the ongoing operation in Khyber Agency. Prime Minister Gilani has defended the action saying it would have amounted to criminal negligence if incidents like the burning of girls' schools and kidnapping and public executions by the militants were ignored. Leaders of the PML-N and JUI-F have however claimed that the operation was in fact initiated under the US pressure. What is surprising is that while the Prime Minister holds that the coalition partners were duly taken into confidence, the PML-N and JUI-F leaders maintain that the operation was started without their knowledge. This raises questions both about the working of the coalition and the way decisions on vital national issues are taken by the present government. One can understand that not being a part of the NWFP government, the PML-N and JUI-F would be on the lookout for occasions to put the provincial administration on the mat. But the recent decision to relegate all powers to the army chief to counter militancy was taken at the federal level and one had expected that all coalition partners would have been taken on board. Under the circumstances the statements by Mr Gilani and certain PML-N and JUI-F leaders do not promote a perception of harmonious relations among the allies. There is another disturbing dimension to the episode also. As was the case with the PML-Q led government, the decision making process under the present government also lacks transparency. A major shift has taken place in its policy of tackling militancy, which can have serious consequences for the entire country. What is more the government has left it to the army to decide whether and when military action is to be taken in the FATA region. All this has happened without the matter having been brought before the National Assembly. There was no report of the issue having been debated even in the cabinet. As the sudden change in policy, accompanied by an immediate operation in Khyber Agency, has taken place less than five weeks before the Prime Minister is scheduled to leave for the US, questions have been raised if the decision to initiate military operation was effected under US pressure. The PPP being the major partner in the coalition, its leadership has to ensure that other allies are taken into confidence when formulating policies. The PML-N and JUI-F too have to avoid grandstanding if they really care for the coalition. The government leaders who had vowed to strengthen the Parliament owe it to the people that that all policy issues, domestic or foreign, are brought before the NA for ratification.