With reference to the War On Terror, the big question facing Islamabad is, how to handle the dilemma of the growing volume of the US strikes on Pakistan. The gulf on this issue between Washington and Islamabad, apparently growing and becoming unbridgeable, yet the quest for a solution continues and both sides have been - so far - successful in maintaining friendly relations as usual, with Pakistan acting as a strong ally in the War. The conflicting under currents do not in any way influence the ground situation while both sides continue to uphold their viewpoints on the diplomatic front. While US regards the presence of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas a direct threat to it (US), it makes no secret of it as revealed by Director CIA Michael Hayden in his latest interview. A result of this are the US missile attacks in Waziristan, the latest example of which is the one in North Waziristan in which atleast 14 suspected militants were killed and many injured. Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Muhammad Sadiq regards such missile strikes on our restive tribal regions as a "violation of the international law." He said, "Statements made by the Pakistani leadership are very clear and the discussions the two countries had on rules of engagements were also very clear." The FO has thus made Pakistan government's view on this issue very clear. Yet, to remove any lingering doubts, the spokesman elaborated further saying, "The Government of Pakistan was committed to do whatever was possible to stop those attacks. The issue has been raised at every level including at summit level." Now let us here the views at the summit level. President Zardari, currently visiting New York, told the SBS News in an exclusive interview on Friday that "the US predator attacks inside Pakistan's territory were undermining the efforts to win hearts and minds of the people. It is undermining my sovereignty and it is not helping win the War On Terror." However, he added, "Obviously, the people who were using these strikes are confident that they are doing something, otherwise they wouldn't be at it." The president was careful in choosing his words of protest. The FO officials should learn top level sensitive diplomacy from President Zardari who thus deplored the strikes by US drones in Waziristan by saying,"The predator strikes and the ground raids by the US forces inside the Pakistani territory were unwelcome. Anybody who needs to come to Pakistan needs to have a passport and a visa. So whether it's ground or air forces, they need a visa and if they don't have a visa they're not allowed." President Zardari, however did complain in a mild diplomatic phrase to the effect that Pakistan was not being provided any information about the attacks. The point I am trying to make about the dilemma with regard to US air strikes is that Mr Muhammad Sadiq is evidently out of step with the President of Pakistan. Let there be no mistake that President Zardari was the master of the situation not only during his interview with CBS News but also in his one-on-one meeting with the CIA Chief Hayden in Washington. President Zardari is likely to meet President-elect Barack Obama where the same issue will be discussed, besides the economic crisis facing Pakistan. Moreover, Zardari feels that the new administration after taking over in January 2009 needs to let Pakistan take appropriate measures against the terrorist in their own way. The dilemma is how to perform this feat. The joint session of Parliament has pondered over this problem for two weeks and has come out with a resolution, the implementation of which is awaited. The issue is more complex than it may appear on the surface. In the meantime the present as well as the incoming US administration is worried that 9/11 may be repeated again. Zardari has won the hearts of both the Republican and Democratic administration after saying, "Well I can assure the American people that nothing like that (9/11) is going to happen in my watch. Pakistan would not allow use of its tribal areas to stage any terrorist attack against the US." The final word on US air/ground violation of Pakistan's territory and sovereignty shall have to wait till January 2009 when Obama's new administration takes over. The writer is the president of the Pakistan National Forum E-mail: ikramullah@nation.com.pk