In a recent United States senate hearing it was reported that the United States Intelligence had concluded that the next 9/11 type attack on the its soil might come from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. This assessment of the situation by the US Intelligence is likely to have far reaching effects on Pakistan's future. On the pretext that the tribal areas of the NWFP enjoyed a different status than the settled districts, Pakistan chose to shut its eyes to the United States forays across the Durand Line, initially a few miles into the tribal territory by cross border incursions by its land forces into the Pakistan territory. For some time now, however, attacks from the air by pilot-less drones have become common. In order to save itself the embarrassment, the Pakistan government initially claimed that the action taken from the air was carried out by Pakistan and that no foreign aircraft were involved. Because of the precision attacks carried out by night from the air - a capability which the Pakistan Army or the Air Force did not possess, it was later admitted that these attacks were by the United States and the public has been told that a protest was lodged with the United States government. The Pakistan government has also clarified that the attacks had been confined to the tribal areas of the NWFP. This explanation suggests that the Pakistan government does not regard the tribal areas as much a part of the country as the rest of Pakistan. This is a dangerous thinking and one that can have grave international repercussions for Pakistan. We will be fooling ourselves if we believe that when their vital security interests are involved, the United States will draw a distinction between the "settled" and the "tribal" areas of Pakistan. If the militants who have been using our tribal areas as a base for their operations against the US and their allies, begin to feel safer in the settled districts of the NWFP or Balochistan, they are likely to move to the settled districts where the law and order situation is now not very different from that in the tribal areas of Pakistan. It will be more difficult for them to operate from the settled districts in many ways but they are likely - in spite of the difficulties - sooner or later start operating from there. Judging from the ineffectiveness of our administration in districts like Swat and even Peshawar, this appears possible. Should they begin to do so, it is not likely to deter the United States from carrying out raids against these targets in the settled districts of Pakistan. The speeches of the US presidential candidates taking part in the forthcoming election, have made this abundantly clear. With drones attacking targets inside Pakistan, if the United States considers this vital to their security, we will enter a new phase of our relations with the US. This is likely to create greater instability in the country than we have experienced so far. Judging from the United States approach towards this problem, one can conclude that any United States government of the future, whether Republican or Democrat, would do everything which in their opinion will help to safeguard the United States from attacks from any quarter abroad. Unless there is a fundamental change in the situation on our North Western border or in United States policy, which does not appear likely, we in Pakistan are likely to face greater suffering in the future than we have in the past.