AS US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke lands at Islamabad today, a western diplomatic source has ventured to surmise that he would be delivering a strong message from the Obama administration when he meets the Pakistani leadership. However, there are reports that he would do more of listening than talking, and that seems to be fairly logical. A seasoned diplomat, who is certainly not unaware of the overall picture of militancy, Mr Holbrooke might consider it more advisable to familiarise himself with the current ground realities on the issue of primary concern to the US on his first trip to the region. Nevertheless, the Pakistani leaders should be prepared for hard questioning. They must take note of the words of US Vice President Joe Biden, uttered at Munich on Saturday, that "no strategy for Afghanistan in my humble opinion can succeed without Pakistan". They are, indeed, significant as they point to the intense pressure Pakistan would come under in the coming days when the focus has fully shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan. Mr Biden also emphasised that to achieve its counter-terrorism goal, Washington would strengthen its cooperation with the people and government of Pakistan, help them stabilise the tribal areas and promote economic development throughout the country. It is on these interconnected issues of the country's stability and economic development that our interlocutors should engage Mr Holbrooke, underlining their fundamental role in containing militancy and extremism while they apprise him of Pakistan's efforts to tackle the menace. The promised increased economic assistance should start flowing in without delay, and the unfulfilled commitment of Mr Bush for the establishment of 'reconstruction opportunity zones' in the tribal region should be honoured. Mr Obama's vision of peace entailing resolution of disputes between India and Pakistan, including the core issue of Kashmir, should be pursued to its logical conclusion. There can be little doubt about the efficacy of Mr Holbrooke's prescription for Pakistan's ills i.e. the rule of democracy, eliminating the role of the army from politics, and coordination between government and military. These are, in fact, the hallmark of any properly functioning democracy in the world. In Pakistan, unfortunately, they have been in short supply. Time has now come to learn the lesson. As for Mr Holbrooke's reference to "a new policy for the tribal areas" is concerned, the sooner the Obama administration realises that recourse to drone attacks is creating more converts to militancy, the better for its cause. A comprehensive strategy to deal with the terrorist phenomenon should involve a clear roadmap of the exit of foreign forces from Afghanistan to satisfy the indomitable Afghan and Pushtun spirit of independence.