THE call that the time has come for the government to step in to do the civilian part of the job in the Swat valley, as the menace of militancy recedes from the place, is unquestionably appropriate. In fact, across thr board in Pakistan - the media, political leadership, both here and abroad, as well as the intelligentsia - has been apprehensive that should the task, not only of reconstruction but also of reconciliation, not be handled with utmost speed and care, Pakistan would lose the chance of retaining the goodwill of the people of Swat. At this moment, despite the suffering and the risks the displaced had to bear, they feel greatly beholden to the military for its efforts to clear the area of extremist elements, who had made their lives and property insecure. According to news reports, the army is presently busy mopping up militants at the pockets that have not yet been wiped out. Now the ISPR Director General, Maj-General Athar Abbas, has added his voice to the demand for urgent civilian action in the valley so as not to fritter away the gains that the military operation has scored, including the death of 1800 terrorists, but also with a heacvy toll of soldiers' lives. He recounted the achievements of the military campaign, justifiably asserting that the army had broken the back of militants and that the intention was not to leave any safe niche for them to hide in the area. The other point the DG ISPR made i.e. the overuse of force would prove counterproductive, is worth serious consideration for the army as well. The expansion of the operation beyond Malakand Division to Waziristan is beset with grave consequences. Though the government is not acknowledging that the operation covers Waziristan also, the facts on the ground lend sufficient proof of it. One would have wished that Pakistan had thoroughly examined the implications and, putting aside the US pressure, looked at the scenario from the perspective of national interest and explored the possibility of a peaceful outcome. The government must understand that the issue cannot be resolved with the use of force; ultimately, this large section of the population has to be engaged in talks to bring the situation back to normal.