AS the military campaign against the militants in Malakand Division rages on and claims are being made that it has entered the final phase, an overwhelming majority of the population joins the ruling leadership in its resolve not to rest till the scourge has been wiped out, peace is restored and the writ of the state prevails once again. And one might add that it is equally crucial to the success of the operation that the persons displaced from the affected areas return to their homes and the reconstruction work is taken in hand on a war footing. However, to make the point that militancy is still alive, a bomb planted on a motorbike went off in Rawalpindi, killing one person and injuring a number of others. At the same time, the alarming reports that the militants being pushed out of the Swat valley are entering Kurram Agency should be taken seriously. The country's top leadership, President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and COAS General Ashfaq Kayani, that met at Islamabad on Wednesday reaffirmed, with one voice, the commitment to keep the fight on "till the complete elimination of the militants". The Taliban's deadly forays into Pakistan's main cities and the reported acts of their brutalities seems to have also caused virtually a tectonic shift in the public perception of their ultimate goal. According to a survey conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, percentage of those who see them as a threat to be removed has jumped from 34 to 81. Hardly anyone now holds the view that the Taliban are fighting for the enforcement of Sharia and the cause of Islam; on the contrary, the general feeling is that their deeds are bringing a bad name to the glorious religion. However, the increased opposition to the militants has not whittled down the people's resentment of the US, which though strange because it is also engaged in getting rid of militants, is quite understandable. The Americans are rightly perceived as pursuing their larger strategic goals at the cost of Afghans and the region. The people would like the US troops to pack up and go and do not believe President Obama's words that, given the peace in Afghanistan, he would take them out. Their departure would remove the militants' biggest grouse: foreign occupation. Thus, for all the favourable view that the world is taking of Mr Obama, a good 62 percent of Pakistanis do not trust him. For Pakistan at this point of time, a most urgent concern should be to ensure, as President Zardari is reported to have stressed at the meeting, that the IDPs are taken good care of before they resettle back home as soon as the conditions are good enough for them to live in peace and make a living. One would hope that the military planners are seriously working out a strategy to bring the operation to a close at the earliest. Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif is only voicing the nation's sentiments when he calls for its quickest possible end.