THREE US Congressmen, who visited Pakistan and met President Musharraf and Prime Minister Gillani last Friday, have said that US commandos were ready to conduct raids inside Pakistan's tribal areas. They gave two reasons for the impatience on the part of Washington: Islamabad had failed to disrupt the militants' training camps and crossborder attacks; and it had shown hesitation to launch joint operations in the area. The language used by one of these Congressmen was quite provocative. "Either Pakistan does more," he told The Houston Chronicle, "Or we will be taking things into our own hands." Washington has of late developed a strong perception, bordering on schizophrenia, of an imminent strike inside the US, directed from Pakistan's tribal areas. The perception has been reinforced by reports of a 40 percent rise in violent attacks against US-led forces in Afghanistan. Extremism and militancy hurt Pakistan as much as they hurt the US. Hundreds of Pakistani citizens have fallen victim to terrorist attacks, particularly suicide attacks, and more Pakistani security personnel have died fighting militants than from the US-led coalition. Learning from the bitter experience of the past that an indiscriminate use of force in the tribal area boosts militancy instead of bringing it under control, the coalition government decided to deal with it through the time-tested tribal methods of conflict resolution. Taking note of the fact that every member of the tribe was bound by tradition to avenge the killing of an innocent relative, a total reliance on force was replaced by a multi-pronged strategy. This was initially tested in the two Waziristan agencies where it paid off. The accord subsequently reached in Swat has also considerably reduced attacks while it is hoped that the one concluded in Khyber Agency on Wednesday would bring peace there and to the adjoining areas. Once the militants have been isolated, one can hope that their movement across the Durand Line would be effectively reduced. Al-Qaeda is not limited to Pakistan's tribal areas alone. Threats from it can emanate from Iraq, Afghanistan or even Algeria, to name only a few countries where it is active. Hot pursuit into Pakistan is likely to add to Washington's difficulties, besides posing a threat to the coalition government, and in the process causing irrevocable harm to the democratic process. The US-led coalition conducting operations inside Afghanistan would do well to benefit from Pakistan's experience and employ a holistic strategy to pacify the militants.