IN the face of its backing to Afghanistan for holding talks with the Taliban to put an end to their resistance, the Bush Administration's reservations about Pakistan's efforts to conclude peace deals with tribesmen in Waziristan presents a clear example of US double standards while dealing with the same issue. The observation of American Ambassador at Kabul, William Wood, that there were large segments of the Taliban who were unhappy with the terrorist turn some of their factions' struggle had taken, is equally relevant in the case of tribal areas under Pakistan's jurisdiction. Logically, therefore, the same principle of drawing peaceful citizens to the mainstream of life should apply in the case of Pakistan as well. Interestingly, Mr Wood avoided comments on the reports that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who carried a multi-million-dollar US bounty on his head, was already engaged in talks with the govt, which suggested that the US would not mind even if Kabul were to negotiate with someone the US believes to be a terrorist. Somehow, Pakistan remains under continued US pressure not to make any move to bring those living in its tribal region under the peace umbrella, though it is well known that the previous deals had fallen through because the government did not live up to its commitments. Washington's role in constantly urging Islamabad to stick to the military option had been a vital input in making the accords unworkable. Unfortunately, the pressure might be working, as there are reports that Islamabad has decided to maintain its military presence in South Waziristan, something that would inflame local passions against the government, and suspended talks with tribesmen, just a couple of days after the US Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm Mike Mullen had met the Pakistani leadership. In the light of these developments, it seems that National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley's counsel of patience with Pakistan to let it evolve an anti-terror strategy is just for public consumption. One would expect the political leadership not to follow in the footprints of the military regime and adopt the course best suited to the country's interests. Peaceful means rather than armed action would alone serve that purpose.