Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has issued a diktat that Pakistan would have to take it on itself to destroy the terrorist sanctuaries on its land, and not only that it must accept the responsibility. He has been griping about it from time to time; it is high time he started appreciating the hurdles that have so far been overcome. Pakistan has been doing all it could despite great peril to its existence over the past many years losing in the process thousands of its citizens. The US has a genuine reason to worry over the threat that still lingers despite the death of Osama Bin Laden, yet the front line state happens to be Pakistan where all this mess, brewing over the decades is now being mopped up.

Islamabad understands very well the dangers to itself and the world; we are not a country to cringe at the sight of terrorists. This determination will stay intact until the menace is crushed. Where this role is being downplayed, the US has been found wanting in accepting its own responsibility, at least so far as targeting many of the safe havens inside the Afghan territory are concerned. There are for instance, the same groups launching cross-border attacks that have been enjoying what has started to look like backing from the Afghan government. And even if there is no backing, the very fact that they have been freely operating and carrying out blasts and target killings inside Pakistan implies that they operate from the comfort of a sanctuary. It is that part of the equation that needs to be put in the limelight; the vast mountainous region of Afghanistan and the border areas offer the perfect hiding place for the miscreants. Unless, the troublemakers are cleared off these areas and on a permanent basis the return of militancy cannot be ruled out. Worrying too is another factor of the conduct of the Karzai administration, which remains far from being friendly.

Terrorism can be fought in a much better and effective way with the spirit of camaraderie between the allies. Matters where differences crop up can best be resolved with the power of persuasion rather than a resort to open hostilities. Afghanistan where Nato has stayed for over a decade now, its ills cannot be left for Pakistan to rectify alone. The US has been lucky that it has found in the present PPP setup a steady and a ready partner despite the sabre-rattling. That scenario might not prevail indefinitely and hence all the more reason for the relations to assume the status of equality and mutual respect.