As the process of Talibanisation is inching towards the rest of Pakistan from its safe haven in NWFP, America is also getting increasingly concerned for its own safety. President Obama has openly expressed his fear that another big Al-Qaeda terrorist attack like 9/11 is imminent from the springboard of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has therefore devised a new strategy to target Al-Qaeda. He has tripled the US economic aid to Pakistan to the extent of US$1.5 billion a year and is sending 4000 additional troops to Afghanistan to train Afghan security forces. He has, however, ruled out sending troops to Pakistan, but will continue to attack suspected Al-Qaeda targets in North West Pakistan in consultation with the Pakistan government. This is a major departure from the policy of drone strikes now being carried without informing Pakistan, in tribal areas under the control of the militants where the Pakistani governments' writ does not even exist. In the given circumstances this seems to be the best possible strategy to help Pakistan get over its economic and financial difficulties and at the same time safeguard US interests. Mr Obama has, however emphasised that the US will not give a "blank cheque" to Pakistan, but will ensure that it is well spent on education and social welfare of the poor and deprived people in the tribal areas where poverty is one major cause of religious radicalism and terrorism. He expects that the government and people of Pakistan will not allow the corruption mafias to plunder this aid, which it has been doing in the past. Summing up the new strategy Mr Obama said: "The people of Pakistan want the same things that we want: an end to terror, access to basic services, the opportunity to live their dreams, and the security that can only come with the rule of law. The single greatest threat to the future of Pakistan and the United States came from Al-Qaeda and their extremist allies, and that's why we must stand together in this fight. The terrorists within Pakistan's borders are not simply enemies of America or Afghanistan - they are a grave and urgent danger to the people of Pakistan." In this background President Obama's "blank cheque" warning is based on the history of misuse of the US aid by previous Pakistani governments. There is no need therefore for our foreign minister to give a "tit for tat" reply to President Obama. According to a report submitted by the State Department to the US Congress, Pakistan received about US$10.6 billion aid since 2001 up until the end of 2007. Sixty percent of the aid was utilised for Coalition Support Funds (CSF). These funds are given to reimburse the Government of Pakistan for its efforts in what the Bush Administration labelled the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT). They are considered by the US administration to be a repayment rather than assistance. However, since there has been little accountability or transparency of this funding, it is uncertain whether these funds were being used to fight GWOT. Fifteen percent, or close to US$1.6 billion, were spent on security assistance. Pakistan has used the majority of these funds to purchase major weapon systems, such as F-16s, for possible use in a conventional war with India. Another 15 percent had gone towards budget support or direct cash transfers to the Government of Pakistan. This money is supposed to provide macroeconomic stability and to free up funds for social spending, but few transparent accountability mechanisms were built in. The remaining 10 percent were to be used specifically for development and humanitarian assistance, which was not done. This breakdown makes it clear that the major part of US assistance had gone to the armed forces, which was exactly the opposite of the US aid policy. Comparatively little went towards economic development, institution building, or education despite the fact that improvements in these fields were central to eradicating extremism, which thrives in the absence of education and development. As a result of increased US pressure, the role of the Pakistan armed forces in battling terrorism in the tribal areas of the country has increased manifold. The US drones are also attacking targets in these areas almost daily killing some radical militants with collateral damage of loss of life of many innocent people. This is indeed unfortunate, but it happens in all war situations. There has been a lot of hue and cry recently by political parties inside and outside Parliament against drone missile attacks, calling them attacks on Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The government too joins the chorus as a PR exercise to keep the people happy, but it has not yet forcefully denied the claim of US Senator Ms Feinstein that drones fly from a Pakistani airbase. Recently the Pakistani defence minister made a ridiculous statement that drones land at a Pakistani airbase but do not fly from there. The writer is ex-director news, PTV E-mail: