PAKISTAN's resolve to tackle the militant phenomenon in the tribal region through a peace initiative once again received cautious support from the United States when spokesman Sean McCormack recalled on Thursday the government's positive goal of integrating these areas into the fabric of the country's political life and making the FATA "a fully functioning part of Pakistan". However, he added that those who are irreconcilable to any political process must be dealt through other means. To all appearances, this US current position tallies with Pakistan's line of action, but keeping in mind its open and persistent advocacy of armed action and relentless criticism of the previous peace deals with the tribesmen, there should be little doubt that the US has come round to this point of view with a great deal of reluctance, thanks to Islamabad's new leadership's insistence that it will not use force against its own people where persuasion and incentives could produce results. Conscious of the historical reality that a coercive attitude has never worked in these areas where people value freedom very highly, it has taken a policy decision to introduce a package of reforms containing economic incentives and health and educational programmes to wean the tribesmen away from militant pursuits. The US preference for ruthless military operation that the military government of President Musharraf had followed proved counterproductive; the terrorists reacted, with brutal effect, by extending their reach out of the their previous known strongholds well into the main cities of the country. However, we must be aware that it will not be long before the US starts showing impatience, if Pakistan's policy does not pay off according to its wishes and within the timeframe it has in mind. The government of NWFP is reportedly going to launch a $4 billion peace plan with the purpose of reducing militancy by 30 percent within three years. The comprehensive project, prepared by a task force of the Awami National Party, is designed to retrieve 'areas lost to militants' and improve the writ of the state. Among other things, it aims at providing job opportunities to the tribesmen, rehabilitating militants, delivering justice, setting up corporations to put the fruit, vegetable, agriculture and livestock sectors on sound lines and re-establishing the Industrial Investment and Revival Corporation. Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti, urging the international community to come forward with donations, has rightly stated that it "needs to understand that instead of firing a multi-million dollar missile that causes collateral damage it is better to invest...to improve the lives of the people."