AFTER his meeting with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani at the White House on Monday, President Bush twice made a point of saying that he respected Pakistan's sovereignty. Coming as it did in the backdrop of recent reports of NATO buildup across the Durand line and mounting pressure on Islamabad to do more for tackling growing militancy on its soil, it must have provided some relief to Mr Gilani who is on his first official visit to Washington. But there is little reason to trust Mr Bush's remark which almost coincided with a US missile attack in tribal area, which left six people dead and three injured. It was disturbing to hear from Information Minister Sherry Rehman during the media briefing that even though Pakistan had conveyed its concern to the Bush Administration about crossborder strikes, the issue had not been discussed at the summit. Back home, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid expressed serious concerns over repeated crossborder missile attacks and firing by coalition and Afghan forces during his meeting with Acting CENTCOM Chief Lt Gen Martin Dempsey in Islamabad. The message could have been delivered rather more forcefully if instead of Gen Majid, Mr Gilani had told Mr Bush to respect our sovereignty in the real sense of the word. But he was simply heard saying what his host wanted to hear from him: "Pakistan is committed to fight extremists who are making the world unsafe...This is our own war. This is a war which is against Pakistan's interests and we'll fight for our own cause." The PM had better taken a firm stand since he had a mandate from coalition partners to tell the Bush Administration that the elected government would resolve the tribal crisis by engaging militants in talks rather than accepting foreign dictation to crush them with military might. It was about time the US was made to understand that since the beginning of the global fight against terrorism Pakistan had suffered more than all its all allies put together in the region. Mr Bush who is at the twilight of his final term should stop harping on his 'do more' rhetoric and let Islamabad deal with the crisis the way it deems fit. The two leaders spent a lot of time discussing Pakistan's economy. It was followed by a US offer of $115 million over two years in food aid of which $42.5 million would be available to Islamabad in the next six to nine months. This will surely give some boost to our slumping economy but the leadership needs must ensure that the promised assistance does not have any strings attached to it that may undermine our sovereignty.