PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and Foreign Minister Qureshi have strongly opposed any possible US intervention in the tribal areas. The fact that three important leaders of the ruling coalition felt it necessary to simultaneously voice their concern indicates that they have reason to believe that a misadventure of the sort might be in the offing. The reiteration by Admiral Mike Mullen that the tribal areas have become safe haven for terrorists combined with the revelation that the Pentagon has worked out a strategy for action in the tribal areas has also roused widespread concern. There are reports meanwhile of US drones intruding deep into the tribal region. Fears are being expressed that the US casualties in Kunar province on Sunday might be used as an excuse by those in the Pentagon itching to get involved in FATA. Washington has to understand that it is easier to get into the tribal areas than to come out. Any shortsighted operation would be counterproductive and harm long-term US int erests in Pakistan. Pakistan has told Washington that it is already taking steps in FATA to uproot extremism and militancy on a permanent basis. As a part of a multi-pronged strategy it has initiated talks with the local tribal leaders through the traditional jirga system while it has also taken action where talks have failed to produce results. There is by and large a lull in the militant activity in the two Waziristan Agencies and Swat. In Waziristan, extremist militant leader Baitullah Mehsud is considerably isolated, thanks to the strategy. The operation in Khyber Agency has forced the two militant groups, which were threatening peace in the neighbourhood of Peshawar, to agree not to challenge the writ of the state. In Hangu, where the Taliban decided to confront the government, FC was deployed to establish the writ of the state. A number of paramilitary troops have died while valiantly performing their duties. Once the government is able to establish its writ in the area inhabited by fiercely independent tribesmen, it would be in a position to regulate traffic across a border which remains largely undefined and where same tribes live on both sides. Once there is a modicum of peace, development projects to enhance economic activity would act as a powerful disincentive to any militant activity. Most of the tribal area comprises formidable terrain and the population possesses modern weapons. US airstrikes are likely to unleash an army of suicide bombers who would make a beeline for Afghanistan. An induction of military personnel in the area would land the troops in a mire. Washington would do well, under the circumstances, to heed to the advice of the leaders of the ruling coalition.