AS the fight against militants rages on in Malakand Division and beyond, President Zardari declared on Monday that it was a "total war" that would be taken to its logical conclusion. He was addressing a high-level meeting at Islamabad that was attended by Prime Minister Gilani, concerned Federal Ministers, provincial Chief Ministers, the NWFP Governor, the COAS and top security officials. Understandably, the President as well as other participants felt satisfied at the significant gains the Pakistan Army was making and, according to presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, President Zardari was hopeful that the day was not far off when the insurgency would be so crippled that it would cease to be a threat. As the insurgents retreat from the Swat valley, the authorities cannot afford to remain unmindful of their impulse to create chaotic conditions in society as an act of desperation. The kidnapping of students, teachers and staff members of the Razmak Cadet School on Monday, who were thankfully rescued after prompt military action, is one such instance. The nation also recently witnessed the suicide bombing of an ISI building at a sensitive spot in Lahore, following which one senses in the air a greater focus on security on the part of concerned agencies. In this backdrop, Monday's high-level meeting decided to raise a special police force in all the provinces and install scanners and signal jammers at the entry points of almost all major cities. While the country does need a police force that is well versed in modern techniques and is equipped with necessary tools to meet the daunting challenge of terrorism, one would like to hope that the training is also imparted to the existing personnel in the course of time. The pity is that our security personnel, mostly semi-literate and underpaid, are not security conscious. There is urgent need to instil that consciousness in them. The installation of scanners and metal detectors would certainly be of help and should be expedited. The President also made a very important point: the need for the reconstruction of areas devastated by the fighting so that when the displaced persons go back to their homes, they could restart their lives, putting behind the unfortunate period of suffering in a forced internal exile. Rehabilitation of the uprooted is a most crucial phase of the campaign if the hearts and minds of the local population have to be won, and should not remained confined to words alone. The help that the international community and the local population are giving in the form of funds and other types of assistance should be utilised to the maximum benefit of the affected persons. The battle would only have been won when the authorities had succeeded in creating conducive living conditions.