THE government has reportedly revised a draft peace agreement for South Waziristan in a move perceived as an attempt to ease mounting pressure from the US against holding negotiations with militants. One of the two clauses introduced in the draft would require the Mahsud tribe not to violate the laws of Islam and Pakistan within the country, across the border, and abroad. Under the revised draft, the tribe would also be asked to pay Rs 5 million within two months as compensation for the losses suffered by the government in terms of men and material. This specifically referred to the killing of 22 paramilitary soldiers and the making hostage of many others in a militant attack on a British-era fort located in the Mahsud territory early this year. The fort was later dynamited and razed to the ground. Seeking compensation for the damage caused to official installations is justified especially when Mahsuds have been asking the government to pay for the losses of life and property suffered by tribesmen. A news report indicated that the draft has been handed over to a tribal interlocutor, who in principle approved of the new clauses. That the peace deal was acceptable to the tribe became obvious when Baituallah Mehsud circulated a pamphlet asking the government officials to return to his territory and resume their work. The tribe has already agreed to take action against any terrorist training camp on being informed by the concerned authorities about its existence in its territory. The Mahsuds, however, have reservations about the inclusion of any clause regarding cross-border activities, because they insist that they do not have any influence over the Wazir tribe, which inhabits the areas bordering Afghanistan. The agreement with Baituallah Mehsud will certainly help in the expulsion of foreign militants as well as cessation of hostilities. But, in order to contain cross-border strikes, the government will have to contemplate peace deals with other tribes in the restive region. The Bush Administration meanwhile remains averse to the idea of any negotiated settlement and keeps expressing its concern that the peace agreements would provide the militant forces an opportunity to regroup. A senior Pentagon official, at the NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels, admitted that areas on the Pak-Afghan border were not covered from their side and pinpointed the problem: more troops from reluctant NATO allies could stop cross-border movement. But the United States must understand that a durable solution lies only in complete withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan.