TWO US missile attacks in North Waziristan within four days have killed twenty-nine people including a number of women and children, leading to widespread denunciations. Despite Islamabad's protests, Washington fails to realise that actions of the sort weaken the position of loyal tribesmen who have raised lashkars to help the government establish its writ. The Bush administration is causing problems for Pakistan through shortsighted policies geared towards winning the presidential elections for the Republicans. Pakistan faces three types of security challenges, social, economic and political. Misguided elements playing in enemy hands continue to conduct terrorist acts to destabilise the country. They have killed hundreds of innocent people during the last six months, put schools, private businesses and government installations on fire and targeted security personnel. Elements from Afghanistan have reportedly infiltrated into the tribal areas to challenge the government's writ. As they can easily mix up with Afghan refugees, the government has been forced to expel the latter from Bajaur. Interior Advisor Rehman Malik says Pakistan is in a state of war. The new government has been called upon to resolve a highly complicated situation, made more so by the policies pursued by Gen Musharraf to prolong his tenure. Any direct involvement by the US on the excuse of the area having become a war zone is likely to add manifold to the anti-US sentiment in Pakistan. As recommended in the report of the bipartisan Pakistan Policy Working Group, the new US President has to revamp the policy towards its ally, mixing deft diplomacy, security support and economic aid while being patient with the newly elected government. The report rightly warns that missile attacks inside Pakistan are counterproductive. Pakistan's economy has badly suffered from the consumption oriented development strategy of the previous government and the phenomenal rise in the international prices of fuel and food items. It is facing an economic crunch that has added to the crisis. What is needed is a new economic strategy giving priority to agricultural and industrial production. Meanwhile, to tide over its current difficulties, the government needs assistance amounting to $10-15 billion. Unless the Friends of Pakistan manage to put their act together, the deteriorating economy would continue to pose a challenge. Despite an elected government being in power for six months now, there is still a perception of uncertainty in the country heightened by the break-up between the PPP and PML-N and fears of its possible repercussions in Punjab. The issue needs to be jointly addressed by the two parties preferably through reunion or failing that through peaceful coexistence.