WASHINGTON - Stating that creating jobs is key to defusing militancy in the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, a leading American newspaper Sunday called for action on the proposal to launch a preferential trade programme in those areas. In an editorial, The Washington Post stressed that actualization of the recently introduced measure on Reconstruction Opportunity Zones, "would encourage investment by local businessmen, who best know the terrain, and create jobs. There's no better formula for discouraging Taliban recruitment" Under the programme, which has bipartisan support on the Capitol Hill, certain products, including some (not all) textiles, produced within the zones would enjoy duty-free access to the US market for 15 years, therefore boosting the economies of both nations. "But that idea arouses the enmity of US labor unions, which means that it's not going to get far in a Democratic Congress," the editorial noted. However, the Post editorial, "Plowshares for Peace," argued that revitalizing the economy is the long-term answer to militancy and urged both the President Barack Obama's administration and the Congress to smooth out any obstacles in the way of the program as it provides a practical alternative. "They (ROZs) would immediately provide a signal of US commitment -- the governments of both countries strongly support the idea -- and they could have a substantial positive effect reasonably quickly, at almost no cost to the US Treasury. Congress and the administration should get behind this idea." The ROZs measure has been introduced in the US House of Representative by Karachi-born Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen. "It's not a magic formula, of course. The investment areas have to be drawn widely enough to make the prospect of investment realistic; if you limit them to the most intense battle zones, you're not going to see many jobs created. The bigger they are, though, the likelier the bill will arouse union opposition, so the politics are tricky. "Mr. Van Hollen and his co-sponsors -- including Reps. Sander M. Levin (Democrat-Michigan), Peter Hoekstra (Republican-Michigan) and Mark Steven Kirk (R-Illinois) -- have tried to find the sweet spot, and their bill also insists that any factories in the zones meet core international standards in their treatment of workers." The Obama administration is close to finalizing its strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan and U.S. officials have indicated that economic development will be an integral component of the policy.