With the high stakes that the US has in the stability of Pakistan, it is quite understandable that the American intelligentsia should be urging Washington to make sufficient funds available to it without any loss of time to check its slide into an economic meltdown. One does not need to stress that economic viability and political strength go hand in hand, and that both are a prerequisite to putting the military might to right use should it become necessary to counter the scourge of terrorism that has found safe havens in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan. The Bush administration, a US think-tank says in a report that focuses more on the socio-economic challenges Islamabad is facing than the military aspect, has been miserly in allocating money and has urged President Barack Obama to inject $5 billion a year "to cover critical budget shortfalls" to keep Pakistan economically afloat, in addition to the $1.5 billion-a-year assistance for 10 years proposed in the Kerry-Lugar bill. In view of Mr Obama's repeated statements underlining Pakistan's role as crucial as Afghanistan's in putting an end to the threat of terrorism one should expect his team, engaged in doing a 'comprehensive review' of US policy towards these two countries (AfPak), to take its recommendations seriously. While there could be little doubt about the convergence of views of both Washington and Islamabad that extremism-cum-militancy is a deadly brew, which ruins the peace, there exists a difference of perception about how best to eliminate it. Pakistan's use of the peace option has invariably met with strong opposition from the US. However, more recently, the more-than-seven-year-long frustrating experience of trying to put down resistance is compelling it to come round to Pakistan's idea of negotiating peace deals to wean away pliable elements from putting up armed struggle. Nevertheless, both agree that there is no other choice but force when it comes to diehard militants. As this divergence narrows, the American reluctance to assist Pakistan in its socio-economic uplift without any reservation should, logically speaking, go. This is the message Islamabad has been getting from the US since Barack H. Obama began campaigning for the White House. And one hopes that his plans would not meet the fate of, for instance, the reconstruction opportunity zones (ROZ) Mr Bush announced with a flourish when he visited Islamabad early March 2006, exactly three years ago. The idea was to generate economic activity in the tribal region and permit unhindered import to the US market of goods produced by the industries installed there. Since then, however, meetings between the two sides have been debating the suitability of these industries. It is by any count a ridiculous issue that only shows US political reservations in implementing ROZ. No amount of goods manufactured in an underdeveloped region largely inhabited by illiterate and unskilled people could disturb the balance of goods coming into the American market from other exporting countries. The new administration should address this issue on an urgent basis and implement ROZ, which lies in the heartland of terrorism. Apart from that, the review team ought to pay heed to Pakistan's long-standing request for market access. Increased demand for exportable goods would stimulate Pakistan's industrial strength and serve as a sound base for generating more employment opportunities and funds to carry out development works, thus paving the way for overall economic prosperity in the country. That would reduce its dependence on foreign aid and loans and enable it to utilise its own financial resources to build roads and bridges, schools and colleges, hospitals and clinics and modernise agriculture. These are the real inputs that could help change the militants' mindset and shift them to economically profitable pursuits. Pakistan needs to be made economically viable to put up a real fight against terrorism, something that the Obama administration has acknowledged. Its follows that the US reviews its policy of denying it help in the development of nuclear energy as well The stock charge or fear of proliferation is no longer valid. The argument of clandestine proliferation network is no longer valid. On this issue of vital importance to Islamabad, Washington should not be devising its policy to suit New Delhi's veto. Although the US is reeling under an economic turbulence of great magnitude it should not be too difficult for it to spare enough funds to prevent Pakistan from descending into 'a spiral of economic, security and politics crisis', as cautioned by the think-tank. Happily, Mr Zardari's comedown on the restoration of judges has raised hopes of political stability and as the country also moves towards economic recovery, the control of militancy appears within grasp. E-mail: mqkay@yahoo.co.uk