Hardly had ISAF commander General Stanley McChrystal communicated the new procedure of the Afghan war to the Pentagon that the troops would take extra precautions to protect civilians before they opened fire than a US jet fighter struck a fatal blow to his plans, and with it receded the prospects of winning the hearts and minds of the people. Scores of innocent Afghans lay dead on Saturday when missiles fired by the aircraft hit a fuel truck that the Taliban had hijacked in Kunduz province. The General has ordered an investigation, like in the case of so many such callous incidents in the past, saying I take this possible loss of life or injury to innocent Afghans very seriously i.e. he fell short of admitting that the victims included civilians as well despite ample evidence to that effect. However, some EU ministers meeting at Stockholm took notice of this great tragedy, with the Luxembourg Foreign Minister calling it an unacceptable catastrophe. The deaths in the province of Kunduz not only underlines, once again, the ruthlessness with which the US and its allies have been trying to deal with the Afghan resistance but also rings alarm bells in Washington and other Western capitals about its spread to the north, which has so far been free from it. It should be particularly unsettling to the foreign forces when they are becoming more active in putting the insurgency down in southern and eastern parts of the country. The US must realise that force alone cannot bring the desired results; it must be accompanied by a sincere and candid approach of socio-economic development.