INSPECTOR General Frontier Corps Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan has told the media that over one thousand militants and twenty seven soldiers were killed during the month long military operation in Bajaur. The tally is saddening as those who have fallen are all, except four, Pakistanis. As the operation is being conducted in populated areas rather than a traditional battlefield, and those opposing the troops are local people with identical features, it is hard to visualize how the authorities were able to sift the militants from innocent tribesmen. Several reports have in fact appeared of protests against the killing of non-combatants including women and children. Extensive damage has been inflicted on houses and private property including orchards and businesses. One realizes that no responsible government can allow anyone to challenge the writ of the state by raising a private army, establishing a rival administration and an alternate judicial system administering punishments on its own. Further, acts of lawlessness like torching the girls' schools, barbers shops and video centers have to be stopped. Similarly no one can be allowed to attack government installations and police stations. But all this needs to be done as far as possible through tactful handling and persuasion and recourse to force taken only, and that too sparingly, when all other measures have been tried and found ineffective. Killing of innocent people through indiscriminate use of force, carelessness or by chance, is liable to inflame a desire for revenge among the effected families and create problems for the rest of the country. Instead of prolonging the operation by two to three months, as is being visualized, it needs to be wound up at the earliest and talks initiated. Among the measures that need to be urgently taken is the rehabilitation of nearly 200,000 displaced persons who have been forced to take refuge in makeshift shelters. With winter approaching, those in these camps are bound to face more hardships. In case of the operation continuing over a longer period there is a danger of the number of the effected people increasing. The absence of the healing hand in Bajaur is being widely noticed. Little has so far been done to win the hearts and minds. Those affected by the operation have to be adequately compensated. The infrastructure in the area of operations has been badly damaged. Roads and bridges have to built while schools and hospitals have not only to be reconstructed but also refurbished. For the present no constructive activity is anywhere in sight.