PRESIDENT Asif Zardari's five minute TV address, delayed for inexplicable reasons for over three hours, has been aptly described as the shortest ever by any head of state in Pakistan. This however kept many pinned to their TV sets till early hours of Saturday morning expecting that he might say something new. As things stand few would disagree with President Zardari that the fight against the militants has now become the war of the very existence of Pakistan. The insurgency in Swat has made nearly 2.5 million people homeless while more are sill pouring into the adjoining districts of NWFP. Suicide attacks continue to take place without respite and those orchestrating them do not care even for the sanctity of the mosques. On Friday, security forces produced before the media a 14 year old boy who had been trained in Afghanistan and sent across the border to be used as a live bomb. There is hardly a sphere of life, which has not been affected by the insecurity caused by terror attacks. Security arrangements in big cities have not only created difficulties for the citizens but have also had a negative impact on the business activity. Schools have been closed before time. The adverse law and order situation has discouraged investors, both internal and external, bringing down the level of foreign investment considerably this year. With lukewarm international response to the UN appeal for funds for the IDPs, Pakistan has been left to look after them. While the Prime Minister has assured the displaced persons that in case of worse coming to worse the country's development budget would be diverted to their welfare, the statement indicates the gravity of the situation. The upsurge in the terror attacks threatens the country's integrity. Security forces have been called in to deal with insurgency in Malakand Agency and the tribal areas. Every day there are reports of army personnel laying down their lives in the fight against those challenging the writ of the state. While the soldiers are in the forefront of the fight, Police and civil armed forces too face the brunt of the war launched by the enemy acting from the shadows. The decision to set up a cantonment in Swat is aimed at providing a sense of security to the IDPs whose return to their homes is now being planned. This also indicates that even after peace has been restored, army's presence might still be required. In days to come all the agencies of the government need to be geared to the twin tasks of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the areas cleared from anti-state elements. There is a need to bring an end to the military operation at the earliest. Any perception that it is being unnecessarily prolonged or expanded can reduce the popular support without which the war cannot be won.