AT the conclusion of his extended stay in the US, President Asif Zardari expressed hopes that the new US administration would put an end to the drone attacks. Interestingly, the Washington Post, which published his interview, had earlier carried a report maintaining that the strikes were being conducted under a tacit understanding with Islamabad, which was allowed to lodge protests to deflect public criticism. A Foreign Office spokesman has meanwhile rubbished the report. However, the sharp increase in these attacks, from six in December to August when General Musharraf stepped down to at least 19 since then, would require some explanation. It is an open secret that while buttressing Musharraf's dictatorial regime, the Bush Administration did not trust the security agencies working under him. It was often maintained that the military ruler was either unable to control what were described as rogue elements in these agencies having links with the terrorist networks, or was unwilling to do so. The present government, on the other hand, has taken the issue of terrorism to Parliament where it was unanimously decided to root out extremism and terrorism in all forms. What is more, the Pakistan Army has not only expressed a commitment to carry out the orders of the elected government, but is also conducting full-scale operations in Swat and Bajaur under the government's direction. The Americans should therefore have no reasons to harbour suspicions about the new government's commitment to fight terrorism. Islamabad must, however, tell them plainly that terrorism can only be eradicated through a holistic policy, of which military action is to be the last and not the first option. While in New York, President Zardari had telephonic conversations with Senators Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. One hopes he realizes the mood prevailing in the Obama camp regarding the tribal areas. The incoming President is not only committed to induct more US troops inside Afghanistan, but also to launch attacks inside Pakistan's tribal areas if Osama Bin Laden's presence is verified there. The new US administration needs to be persuaded that it is in the best interests of both countries if the terrorists operating inside FATA are dealt with only by Pakistan. What the US can do to help is to provide sophisticated weapons to the Pakistan Army which include, as Mr Zardari has also noted, the Predator weapons system. Instead of brokering secret understandings, what is needed is to convince the new American President of the correctness of the stand. It remains to be seen if President Zardari possesses the required persuasive skills.