There is no denying the fact that the Parliament's hammering out a consensus on terrorism at a time when the country is passing through the worst crisis of its history was an achievement. Coming as it does after a marked clash of views by different parties in the two-week in-camera session of both houses of parliament, the resolution saw the government concede more than the opposition to get an endorsement of its policies. After all, the country is facing grave challenges that call for nationwide support. Exacerbating the threats the dual scourge of extremism and terrorism poses to national security is the economic meltdown that had brought the country to the verge of debt default. There was no solution in sight. The government had to eventually turn to the IMF to cope with what a British newspaper describes as "a balance of payment crisis caused by a flight of capital." There is no doubt that the 14-point resolution unanimously passed by the Parliament does not give more than an ambiguous call for the review of the national security strategy and for the civilian armed forces to replace the military deployed in the restive region to combat militancy. The resolution seems more tilted against the use of our territory for acts of terrorism across the border than dealing with the stepped-up attacks in tribal areas by US Predators flown from Afghanistan. Much depends on how far the government succeeds in tracking the roadmap and implementing principles enunciated in the resolution. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was right when he said that the past dictatorial regimes pursued policies aimed at perpetuating their own power at the expense of national interest. One wonders what restrained him from clearly pointing his finger at General Musharraf whose supine capitulation to the Bush Administration virtually turned Pakistan into a rentier state. It was however heartening to hear the prime minister place emphasis on dialogue as 'a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution'. In response to the letter written by Mian Nawaz Sharif, he reiterated his government's commitment to use force only as a last resort to deal with the elements challenging the writ of the state. And he was seen putting his own spin on the previously announced policy of engaging in talks the militants who were prepared to lay down arms by saying "all those willing to renounce terrorism would be given an opportunity to de-radicalise." But the PPP leadership's dilemma is its constant foot-dragging on commitments. The nation welcomed its initial announcement of extricating itself from the tribal quagmire by political means rather than the use of force. No sooner had the policy started to bear fruit than Islamabad was constrained to change the course on being accused of letting the militants regroup by halting military operation. Richard Boucher during his recent visit here sounded a clear warning that any action contrary to US administration's desire can expose Pakistan to aid-cut threats from international donor agencies. Little wonder if with just a bit of more pressure from lame duck Bush Administration the PPP government starts dithering about the parliamentary resolution through which it managed to bring the opposition around to its view of combating terrorism. This is where the shoe pinches. It's the huge credibility gap from which the PPP leadership suffers that makes the opposition sceptical of its commitments. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali Khan made a caustic comment, saying although the track record of this government in terms of keeping its promises was not good, "we are hopeful that the resolution will be implemented as it is not an agreement between the two parties." A pointed reference to President Zardari's repeated backtracking on the judges' issue indeed It would be unfair to subject the government to media trial without giving it sufficient time to evolve a new national security strategy in line with the public aspirations. A huge task lies ahead. But as the mainstream opposition finally went along putting aside the reservations it had expressed during the in-camera session about the ongoing policy on terrorism, the PPP leadership will have only itself to blame if it fails to take a firm stand against its foreign backers who would definitely try to sabotage a formidable national consensus on fighting the so-called War On Terror in our on way. E-mail: sarmad@nation.com.pk