AS Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain picks up Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, the rival contenders' line-up for the White House is complete. Senator Barack Obama already nominated as the Democratic candidate on Thursday, when he made history as the first black to represent a major political party in the contest, has already named Senator Joe Biden to team up with him. And with Clintons finally coming up with a stirring appeal to back Obama, his position has certainly got quite a boost. According to opinion polls, the gap between the two is too narrow to make a confident prediction and then there is time during which the voters could be swayed from one side to the other. Candidate Obama has the advantage of being much younger, charismatic and convincing in the exposition of his policies, but at the same time is saddled with the African heritage that still evokes, in the liberal democracy of 21st century US, antipathetic sentiments in certain influential circles. His call for change to restore the country's sullied image, desire to take allies along and commitment to shift the focus on the War On Terror from Iraq to Afghanistan, however, hold special appeal for an ordinary American too weary of President Bush's pointlessly aggressive and unilateralist approach that has brought back over 4,000 bodybags of youthful lives. Senator McCain, though carrying the hang-up of the Republican administration's Iraq policy that he continues to advocate and the handicap of age (he just turned 72), has the experience of war to his credit that is valued by a large segment of US society preoccupied with the challenge of terrorism, On internal policies, both have staunch adherents despite wide differences on health and welfare and taxation, and if tradition carries the day would prove the deciding factor on the polling day. Of concern to us is their attitude towards the War On Terror where Pakistan has grossly enmeshed itself with the US policies. Viewing closely, one would find hardly a difference worth mentioning. Senator Obama, though, initially appeared more strident in pledging direct hits at suspected hideouts of militants in the tribal territory of Pakistan, somewhat modified his stand later, but has now only been talking of shifting the focus to Afghanistan. Candidate McCain's stance almost conforms to the existing policies. But are we not witnessing their stands in play already? Full-scale military operation by Pakistan security forces backed by frequent US strikes on the so-called Al-Qaeda sanctuaries