Holding out the assurance that the US would respect Pakistan's sovereignty and its troops would not cross the "red line" to enter its territory but, at the same time, continuing with drone attacks on the tribal areas is strange logic. And if Pakistani leaders' public stance about these raids were to be taken on its face value it sounds equally strange that none of the top functionaries whom American Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke met during his three-day visit to Islamabad raised the issue with him. When asked at a press conference at Islamabad on Friday that the US was not respecting Pakistanis' sentiments against these drones, Mr Holbrooke maintained that not a single Pakistani, official or member of the civil society, had mentioned the issue to him. One would have expected that a strong case against these attacks was made out before him, pointing out that they were proving counterproductive to the efforts Islamabad was making to defeat militancy. When Pakistan's armed forces were actively engaged in driving out the militant forces, there remained little justification, if at all there ever was, for the US pilotless planes to launch missiles on targets located on its soil. Besides, even according to the Western media, casualties consisted largely of the local population. So far these attacks have resulted in the deaths of a dozen-odd Al-Qaeda operatives. Against this small number, the drones have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, obviously creating a backlash not only against the US but also Pakistan. Not taking up this serious issue with Mr Holbrooke tends to confirm the perception that the ruling leadership is complicit in the violation of the country territorial sovereignty. It needs to put the correct picture before the public and explain the reasons why this extraordinary permission had been granted. Washington should have been clearly told to share intelligence with Islamabad and leave the rest with its security forces. About the widespread concern that the expected surge of American troops in Afghanistan would compel the militants to enter into Pakistan, he assured that operations would be coordinated with the Pakistan security forces to enable them to take appropriate measures. Only time will tell whether it works out as envisaged. Mr Holbrooke appeared to be receptive to the call of Prime Minister Gilani that Pakistan's debt should be written off to face the twin challenges of militancy and economic slowdown. The government should approach the US government with a formal proposal.