THE march of events in Swat and Malakand Division exposed the designs of militants against certain fundamental principles on which the country's Constitution rests, and the distorted concept of religion that they wanted to impose, thus paving the ground for the dissenting political forces to fall in line with the government policies to combat the insurgency. The all-parties conference, in which 40-odd political parties participated, did not lend explicit support to the military action but the wording of the resolution it unanimously passed carries indirect approval. The deletion of the clause, "endorsed the role of armed forces of Pakistan in the present situation and grieved the shahadat of personnel of these forces" from the original draft of the resolution indicates that the participants did not want to go on record backing an action that could have serious political implications for the country. They had to be wary of making any such move in the light of the past experience of military takeovers that at times appeared to have been encouraged by political elements. However, the various clauses of the final version leave little room for doubt that to implement them armed action was the only available option; others had either been unsuccessfully tried (negotiations and persuasion, for instance) or were not practicable (development works) at this stage. For how else could it be possible to "establish and maintain the writ of the state and ensure the supremacy of the rule of law" under the circumstances, when both words and deeds of the militants constituted an open defiance of the established authority of the state? Similarly with certain other clauses of the resolution. Their leader, cleric Sufi Muhammad, was posing an ever-greater challenge to the government with each passing day. An implicit admission of the necessity of the military operation also can hardly be disputed in the 7th clause that reads: "maintaining, that the safety and security of civilians is paramount and it should be ensured that minimum harm is caused to the non-combatant civilian population". As the political parties opposing armed action also unequivocally subscribe to the thesis of the supremacy of the Constitution, the militants' violent defiance of it naturally put them on the back foot. A via media of implied approval was, therefore, found that would enable them to stick to their stand in public. According to PML(Q) President Ch Shujaat, the only two parties that unanimously voiced their endorsement were the MQM and PML(Q). Some parties, like the Jamaat Islami, the JUI(F), the JUI(S) and the PTI, while endorsing the resolution, expressed reservations over military action. Nevertheless, both people and political parties would insist that there should be minimum loss of life, least suffering and dislocation of the local population, and recall of troops as soon as the mess is cleared.