THE government has not received a single penny from the Americans in the last nine months, says the government's principal financial mandarin. PM's Finance Advisor Shaukat Tarin said Pakistan's latest reimbursement bill of 1.35 billion dollars for flushing out militants from the region was delayed. This is a bit of a problem. Waging a war, specially the sort that the Army is waging in the tribal areas and Swat, is an extremely expensive affair. And this is a war that the Americans insist that we fight, to achieve their aims specifically. No outcome but the specific, pristine, Scandinavian-democracy state of affairs that they want is going to be acceptable for them. That is, they are decidedly never going to be happy. An insistence on those specific outcomes minimizes the possibility of working something out between the state and some of the actors involved. The US frowns upon the recent Swat agreement, but even in the tribal areas, where it weren't religious extremists but tribes being mobilized to work against militancy, the US would still have reservations. The perpetuation of conflict that this implies means necessarily long and expensive conflicts. That leads to a financial burden on a purse already stretched to the max. The nation's armed forces, not likely to yield to demands for a decrease in their budgets in times of peace, aren't likely to agree to anything of the like in times of conflict. Would the recent set of bailout packages that we have received from the IMF, World Bank and ADB be spent on the current military campaigns? Would future governments yield more of their fiscal spaces to debt servicing as a consequence of fighting a war that is, if now not somebody else's, at least fought on somebody else's terms? Militancy is not the polity's only problem. There are scores of other issues. There is unemployment, illiteracy, health issues, law and order. All of these require investment on the part of the state. This is a time for the new US administration to realize that the state of Pakistan might fall apart at the seams if this overheated drive of the Pakistani security forces isn't stopped. If it is not stopped, the least that can be done is to ensure that the government receives adequate funds to tackle these prickly issues. If the Americans indeed feel that they are being taken for a ride, they could ask for better accountability of the said funds. The Democrats would be surprised to find that the general public in Pakistan would back this idea. In fact, they would insist on scrutinizing the funds that have been spent so far. We want more money, along with more accountability on how the powers that be are to spend it.