"Without tact you can learn nothing." Disraeli The evidence was irrefutable in Swat. It is overwhelming in Balochistan. Despite all this, policymakers in Washington, who are mainly dominated by the Jewish lobby, continue to ignore the facts provided by Islamabad that New Delhi is involved in training and financing insurgents, which has led to unrest in Pakistan. Once again, there are clear footmarks of RAWs involvement in the attack on the Mehran Naval Base in Karachi. Yet the US administration chose to criticise the 'policies of the Pakistani leadership, instead of trying to rein in the Indians, who think that they can literally get away with the crime. However, this does not mean that the blame for all the ills taking place in the country can be pinned on foreign powers only. General Ziaul Haq decided to use religion as an instrument of political power and we are forced to reap what he had sown years ago. Nevertheless, since sometime saner elements in Pakistan had been raising voices that certain forces were vigorously propagating half-baked ideas about Islam and that if this trend was not stopped it will lead to disastrous consequences. It seems that successive governments were either not interested to pay attention to the issue, or simply chickened out in the face of an uproar, which was created by some religious political parties whenever an effort was made to regulate or monitor the institutions engaged in imparting religious training to children and adults alike. Since there was no law to control the mushroom growth of religious seminaries in the country, it became easy for illiterate mullahs to spread their own versions of Islam that has led to the present state of affairs in the country. Nobody has ever opposed the teachings of Islam in its true perspective, as it is a religion of peace, harmony and brotherhood. But unfortunately some elements, who want to mint money, are engaged in the exploitation of our religion. That has developed in certain instances into cult cultures, where half-baked ideas and concepts that are alien to Islamic teachings are being promoted. Grabbing the opportunity, the US exploited this situation and created a Shia-Sunni divide over certain religious issues during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, which also ignited a fierce sectarian war in Pakistan. That also helped to stoke the fires of extremism, which received financial support from some wealthy Muslim countries around the world. It was, therefore, no surprise that those who believed in violent methods to enforce their brand of Islam came here (Pakistan) from every corner of the world ostensibly to drive out the Red Army from the occupied state wherein the US played a major role. More recently, the Abbottabad attack in which Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs has put tremendous strain on the Pak-US relations. The incident led to an emotional outburst from some politicians; an act that has in fact helped the Obama administration that wants to create wedge between the army and people of Pakistan. The Americans have been steadfast in refusing to listen to the ground realities and have continued to attack certain militant hideouts, further creating recruiting zones for the militants over wide areas in the troubled border belt between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some latest media reports reveal that the Pakistani army has agreed to launch a military operation against the so-called safe havens of terrorists that, according to Washington, exist in North Waziristan. This is indeed a dangerous proposition, which could lead to a severe backlash from the militants for Pakistan and also limit the options that are currently available to the US/NATO forces. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has appointed General Martin Dempsey to lead the US/NATO troops - a General who strongly advocates the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan. And, at the same time, his administration has been pressurising Pakistan to expand its military operations in North Waziristan. Certainly, the superpower needs to review its foreign policy. More so, it would have been in the fitness of things if Islamabad had demanded Washington to use its influence to force New Delhi not only to resolve the Kashmir dispute, but also to ensure that it will stop meddling in Pakistans national affairs. In case the US administration forced the Indians to wind up their training camps established in Afghanistan and stop funding militants, Pakistan could have then paid the price of mounting a fresh operation in North Waziristan. If, however, it does not receive anything substantial in return from the international community for its sacrifices and India continues to support militancy in the state, then this policy is bound to fail and may result in a fresh wave of anti-Americanism. That will ultimately land the present democratic government in serious trouble. Hence, it is necessary that before the Pakistani army initiates a military operation in North Waziristan a careful calculation must be made by the federal government by taking on board the other mainstream democratic forces of the country. Also, it must be calculated what the nation will gain economically and politically in case a decision is made to relieve pressure on the US forces, especially in the province of Khost in Afghanistan. It must be remembered that America is in the quagmire with no early signs of victory, despite its overwhelming statistical advantage in the war-torn country. This is why the US administration is under increasing pressure, both from the Congress and Senate, to quickly wind up the so-called war on terror that has eaten up billions of dollars and damaged its economy. But the question is: What price is Islamabad willing to pay to achieve the goal of getting rid of the militant scourge without hurting the economy or democracy? One hopes that the statements made by US officials are taken seriously by Islamabad, and a loud and clear signal is sent to Washington that certain statements which make harsh criticism of Pakistan are simply unacceptable. The federal government should also make it clear that the US should come out clean on Indias involvement in Balochistan. Otherwise, it may not be possible for Pakistan to have long-term and sustainable friendly relations with the US. It is also hoped that after USAs involvement in the upheavals being witnessed across the Muslim world, the Islamic countries wakes up to these realities and try to forge an independent policy that is not solely dependent on American support. Only unity and a clear shift in policy by the Muslim countries will shake out the America from its present state of arrogance and unilateralism that it is now practicing, as an instrument its foreign and strategic policy. n The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com