Three decades after the United States had raised a force of guerrilla fighters to drive out the Soviets from Afghanistan and, a decade later, abruptly left the arena on succeeding in that mission, it has condescended to own up part of the responsibility for sowing the seeds of present-day militancy. The guerrillas were then known as mujahideen (holy warriors) since they were fighting the 'infidel' communists but now into the second or third generation are called terrorists since they are resisting the foreign occupation led by the US. Washington's departure from the region in the eighties was utterly myopic but consistent with the follies it had been known to commit in the realm of foreign policy. That it had successfully manoeuvred the fall of the only other superpower gave it the feeling of freedom to tread the whole wide world like a colossus who, its policymakers felt, could glower any power into submission. No nation or group could dare defy its command. Highly respected strategists like, for instance Henry Kissinger, could not resist the temptation of believing that the era of an unchallenged US global dominance had ushered in and talked of ways of preserving it "in perpetuity". It did not take long for their dreams to shatter; and they began to see the inevitable emergence of a multipolar world taking shape right before their eyes, largely because of the adventurous forays of their country into foreign lands. Wisdom, on the other hand, demanded that the US remained engaged in the region in the post-Soviet period to help sort out things their interference had created. Pakistan and Afghanistan had no choice but to muddle through the mess all by themselves, which other regional were busy making it worse. The result: the pervasive curse of extremism and militancy that the mighty Americans are finding it hard to eliminate. That brings us to the Obama phase and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's description of Pakistan as a "mortal threat to the world". However, it seems that no sooner had she uttered this alarmist view before a Congressional committee to which Islamabad reacted angrily than Washington thought of toning it down. Secretary Clinton's view of the scenario the next day appeared more like an expression of contrition at past policies of the US. Her words: "But the problem we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for having contributed to it. We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan." Logically, the remark provides a hint of the understanding of Pakistan's difficulties while facing the militant phenomenon and assumes that serious thinking about forging a long lasting friendship is afoot. So far, however, the US has failed on both these counts. Its stress has been on the ruthless use of force to bring the terrorists to heel, ignoring the adverse backlash that would hit the country when it takes up arms against its population. On giving a tangible shape to the expression of "abiding friendship" that Pakistanis heard so much about for quite some time after 9/11, there is little to suggest that Washington is serious. On the contrary. It has gone out of the way to pamper India, not bothering about Pakistan's sensitivities and grouses against it. There is a strong feeling of having been let down once again. But should one hope that the soul-searching Secretary Clinton appears to have done leads the Obama Administration to make the removal of differences between the two major nations of the Subcontinent as an integral part of its policies about terrorism? That would require Washington to intercede to heel the rankling sore of Kashmir and extend adequate help to Pakistan in carrying out socio-economic projects that should pave the way for the eradication of extremist thinking. The reality that with all the determination in the world the evil cannot be got rid of quickly would also require Washington to show patience. Massive help to put Pakistan on the road to becoming a developed country would carry the dividend much sought-after by the US. The Pentagon also needs to shed its hesitation to make up-to-date, appropriate equipment available to Pakistan Army to enable it to successfully take on militancy and also share timely intelligence with it. The present US attitude reinforces distrust that hampers anti-terrorist activities. The sooner the Americans realise that the anger and hatred, which the deaths of innocent persons from drone attacks are creating among the tribesmen, are defeating the very purpose of killing militants whose toll looks insignificant against civilian deaths. The exercise gives terrorism fresh recruits. It is high time it was discontinued. Unfortunately, however, their present attitude does not inspire much optimism. On the contrary, American officials have repeatedly suggested that the aerial attacks are proving useful and have killed important Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives and might even be intensified. Unless, the US corrects its focus on the issue and comprehends the causes that are giving rise to militant feelings, it will find it hard to get the desired results. The cold-blooded murder of ordinary people, including women and children, raises a veritable outrage among the tribal people, known for harbouring the feeling of vengeance for ages. The consequences of the attacks are unmistakably clear: they swell the ranks of insurgent forces that cause trouble to both the US in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the loss of lives and security all over the country. Should one hope that the US would re-examine the issue in the light of its fallout? Or would it have to wait for another three decades before realising that the Predators hurling Hellfire missiles on tribal people were a big mistake? E-mail: