News last week that senior US military commanders are pushing to send Special Operations ground forces into troubled tribal areas of Pakistan sent shock waves around the world. And it prompted denials from Nato and Pentagon officials, who said there were no such plans. We hope this was just a case of fed-up military leaders floating a trial balloon, because the US is hardly in a position of opening what amounts to a new front in an already difficult and unpopular war. Pakistans refusal to root out al Qaeda militants in these sanctuaries is frustrating, no doubt, and threatens to undermine coalition gains in Afghanistan. Attacks launched from that area across the border into Afghanistan are frequently blamed for the painstakingly slow progress in stabilising Afghanistan. The Pakistanis, fickle allies at best, have resisted committing to a timetable for clearing the area of militant forces. After The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, broke the story about the plan for ground raids, Pakistani officials expressed outrage. The Pakistani position is not a mystery. They are hedging their bets in 'harbouring fighters, trying to maintain ties with groups that might be in a position to give Pakistan some influence in Kabul once US forces leave the region. Their ultimate aim is to ensure that arch-enemy India does not gain too much sway in Afghanistan. The US has a delicate balance to maintain between pressuring Pakistan to help and taking matters into its own hands. The Denver Post