We have come to such a sorry pass that today we are confronted only with bad choices. Because humans are the only animals that God has given free will to, much of life is about making choices. Those who make the best choices more often than not are successful. But what to do when confronted with bad choices alone? The only option then is to make the less bad choice. Two bad choices that we were recently confronted with were: do we eliminate the militants or do we let them spread throughout Pakistan? Should we eradicate the militants of every ilk who kill people wantonly in the name of such a distorted Islam in which Allah's original Message is unrecognisable, knowing that in the process a number of innocent people will be killed or displaced? Or should we let them rampage and spread their pernicious influence in the land, knowing that they will wantonly kill, maim and make homeless innocent people and deprive them of their freedom and spread their distorted Islam throughout the country? Which choice is worse, the first or the second? I submit that only the callous and dishonest will say that the second is better. The third choice of more dialogue expired after they killed the Swat deal with their own hands. We have come to this sorry pass because we never seem to realise that others ask us to do only that which is in their interest, not necessarily in ours. It is up to us to do what is good for us. That is what others expect from us also, for they would do the same in our place. Nothing amuses them more when we don't. In the early days we listened to America to earn its goodwill and get its largesse. Gradually we started listening to them to avoid annihilation. When Superpower USSR occupied Afghanistan in the eighties, we allowed Superpower USA to turn our country into a battlefield. After Superpower USSR was defeated, Superpower USA became Hyperpower USA. They dumped us and slapped economic sanctions on us. They abandoned Afghanistan to its debris. They forsook the mujahideen and left them to fend for themselves. Yet their demands didn't end. They expected us to remove the debris and deal with the lethal weapons that they had proliferated in our country. Afghanistan fell into internecine warfare between its warlords. This bothered America. Stability without development and economic independence was important for Afghanistan's vital pipeline routes. America still hasn't learned that stability and poverty don't go together. The Taliban brought peace and stability to Afghanistan. They totally eradicated poppy cultivation and the refining of heroin. But the Taliban became America's next bte noire. The problem was that it too lived in our backyard. Again we were told to eliminate it. America woke up from its stupor on September 11, 2001. Such a thing had never happened to America before. It had been attacked only once before by Japan in far off Hawaii. It had never been attacked on its mainland. Worse, they targeted America's most high profile landmarks that symbolised its economic and military prowess in its two major cities. It was blatant. It was taunting. Naturally, Hyperpower America went berserk. It had to reassert that it was overlord of the world, and that too quickly and powerfully. It attacked Afghanistan. That was the first time that we were confronted with two bad choices: either go with 'non-state terrorists' and be "bombed back to the Stone Age" or go with 'state terrorists' and get slowly taken back to the Neanderthal. What a choice: do we go to the Stone Age instantaneously or the Neanderthal gradually? We decided not go instantaneously to the Stone Age thinking it was the less bad choice because, apart from the fact that we wanted to be rid of terrorism ourselves, we assumed that America would win. It lost. And it wasted $2 trillion in losing. Unable to finish the militants off, America pushed them into our country. Now it expects us to succeed where they failed, which was never part of the deal. Thinking that we are deliberately not "doing enough" they made us the scapegoat for their continuing defeat in Afghanistan (as they have made Iran for their ongoing defeat in Iraq) and have been raining bombs on our people under the excuse of killing terrorists. In three years and three months there have been 60 drone attacks by America on our soil. Its much-vaunted precision hit only 10 targets. As few as 14 Al-Qaeda leaders were killed while as many as 687 of our innocent people were murdered, women and children included - just what we had been trying to avoid by backing America. No wonder they lose everything. Perhaps instantaneous Stone Age would have been better - sorry, less bad - than the Neanderthal. Now we are stuck in both, the Stone Age and the Neanderthal era. Then America's attention got diverted into finishing off Saddam Hussein of Iraq. It killed him, yes, but - you guessed it - lost the war and wasted $7 trillion in losing it. America has made losing wars into an art form. If we have painted ourselves into a corner America has jumped into two quagmires - and now a third, its financial and economic collapse. How long can they go on financing perfidy? Sadly, it took a peace deal with Sufi Muhammad, its immediate and repeated violation by him, his son-in-law's capture of Buner and Shangla and his statements calling all and sundry un-Islamic and infidels that our government finally decided to move against him. Better still, it woke up our people to see that the militants are not the redeemers they took them for. Thus for the first time we have the majority of Pakistanis supporting the military's operation. It's better late than never. Now it is up to the government to forge a visible national consensus supporting our army in eliminating the militants, consensus that should include not only the political parties but also the media and what passes for our intelligentsia. And they must ensure too that the displaced persons don't get neglected and become such a big issue that it turns the people against the army's operation and shifts their sympathies back to the militants. The writer is a senior political analyst. E-mail: humayun.gauhar@gmail.com