In about two months as President, Obama has feverishly been indulging in hectic posturing etc on the subject crisis. This is in sharp contrast to his predecessor whose limitations were too many. Lacking the benefit of sagacity, produced by theoretical knowledge, he also was bereft of the variety of experiences in life produced by travel, and widespread interaction across the Globe. Thus his lingo as well as his conduct of US Administration did awful harm to his country/the world during his two tenures. George W may have been street-smart to make big money through oil-lobby, which clung to him like his shadow, thanks to guys like Cheney, Rumsfeld etc. Thereby he could mislead his, generally, nave people till the rot set in. Obama's overbearing concern appears to be to make the 'audacity of hope' prevail, despite the daunting disaster which is decimating his country' future. He inherited the biggest ever deficit contributing to an economy in shambles which in the year 2000 was vibrant under Bill Clinton. In addition he took over wars in Iraq/Afghanistan wherein over a million local people have got killed in the Republican incumbency of the White House. While Iraq has become relatively less threatening, Afghanistan appears to be spinning odious omens for the US/NATO forces etc. As Obama is well-versed in history and knows Asia pretty well, his focus has been to develop a policy which cuts US losses to start with. Thereafter he would want to work out an arrangement whereby his forces can leave Afghanistan with the understanding that no threat to US security would surface there-from. Being a statesman, he realizes that history, geography, faith/tradition advocate against holding Afghanistan by force of arms. It has been, therefore, a graveyard of Empires. The latest to perish was the Soviet Empire which was made to kiss death when the US etc pooled their resources with the 'Jihadi Islamists' from all over the world to help the ongoing 'insurgency' against the Soviets in Afghanistan. For Breizinski of Carter-fame etc it was the best way to pay the Soviets back for the Vietnam-fiasco wherein US suffered humiliation. No wonder, Obama appointed a special envoy for the subject area, like the one appointed for the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy, immediately after taking office. Ambassador Hollbrooke accordingly dashed to the area and held discussions in Islamabad, Delhi and Kabul. He even visited/over-flew some the troubled tracts in NWFP including the historic Khyber Pass. Being an accomplished diplomat with the credit of having worked out the Dayton accords to bring peace to Bosnia etc, he listened more as against doing the talking. He, however, gave out a broad projection of his country' interests which his President would want to safeguard. As against the boorish statements of the last Administration, the world media now carry conciliatory and realistic rhetoric about Afghanistan from the US/NATO. The new President has set up a high-level group to redesign the policy on Afghanistan. He signaled a change in policy, without condemning his untutored predecessor, by avowing to look for a definite "Exit Strategy" from Afghanistan in an interview with CBS on Monday-week. Elaborating his thinking, he stressed, "What we're looking for is a comprehensive strategy. And there has got to be an exit strategy. There 's got to be a sense that this is not perpetual drift." Displaying his acumen for serious thought, he emphasized that, "What we can't do is think that just a military approach in Afghanistan is going to be able to solve our problems." Acknowledging the importance of Pakistan in the matter, he further added, "We may have to improve our diplomatic efforts in Pakistan." It appears that thanks to the pernicious propaganda etc as well as our own odd conduct, US has been sold the version that the crisis in the brotherly country next-door gets oxygen from FATA. The people in Pakistan and, more so in NWFP, who are suffering, strongly believe that it is the other way round. As the Taliban regained their lost position in 2006 in Afghanistan, they activated their sympathizers etc to play hell with havens like Swat/D.I. Khan etc. No wonder the writ of the Pakistani-state has been under tremendous challenge for the last few years. The army action launched to counteract such serious aberrations has made the trapped-people miserable who have to choose between fleeing their homes and staying on to become sitting-ducks for the multiple-fire hurled by both the sides. Unfortunately the ones who flee get very little subsistence which raises their anger against the US primarily besides their own Govt. The living conditions in the camps/shelters appear to rather irritating. Yet another factor which militates against the US interests in this area is the drone-attacks which kill innocent civilians in far bigger numbers than it does the 'suspects.' Apparently the current Administration wants to carry on with such attacks which may prove counter-productive in the long run. Their short-term effect erodes US' goodwill and tends to swell the ranks of the Taliban which enables the aggrieved to be able to avenge the blood of their dear ones. Apparently such a measure would work against the idea of 'winning hearts and minds' of the people in the area. One can hope that the new policy would dictate a change of approach also on this front so that the process of reconciliation is facilitated. The US has also been openly courting the Taliban of late. Some months back, the Stratfor had advocated that the US should offer to bring the Taliban into power so that Al-Qaeda can then be aggressively pursued. Jason Burke writes in the Observer of 22nd instant, in a column entitled, "America floats plan to tempt the Taliban into peace process" about the same topic. He states categorically "The US ambassador to Kabul told The Observer that America would be prepared to discuss the establishment of a political party, or even election candidates representing the Taliban, as part of a political strategy that would sit alongside reinforced military efforts to end the increasingly intractable conflict." This appears to be an indication how much the US is trying to cross the Rubicon in coming to a viable settlement with the Afghans. Another indication of the same may be the new Election schedule notified by Kabul, much to the chagrin of their acolyte. Seeing the tempo of activity and variegated solicitation by the US, such statements can't be treated as 'old wine in new bottles.' The US/EU must also step up the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a compensation for the destruction caused in this area since 2001. Any repetition of the post-Soviet collapse policy by the US could spell a disaster of undefined proportions. The writer is a former Secretary Interior E-mail: imnor@brain.net.pk