All at sea
US Joint chief of staff Admiral Mike Mullen and Pakistan's COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani have held what was a 'secret' meeting aboard a US vessel stationed in the Arabian Sea. Security concerns, in view of the threat of terror in Pakistan, are reported to have led to the measures taken. But what is significant is that the US and Pakistan have found a common perspective on the 'war against terror'. Certainly, the US generals present at the meeting seem far more satisfied than before. From the brief statements made by both sides, it seems Pakistan has shown considerably greater willingness to tackle militancy head on. Talk of dialogue and compromise seems to have receded. While some will interpret this as an indication that Pakistan has caved in once more to pressure from Washington, the fact also is that no solution to the problem that has torn apart the country seems possible without defeating combatants. The process of reaching agreements with ruthless outfits ready to break them at any time seems somewhat pointless. It is true people need to be won over, but this too can happen only after extremist leaders are removed from their midst. It is possible the PPP government, without its former PML-N partner, may be able to evolve a clearer strategy on this. Key leaders must also be brought before courts, so their case for killing hundreds through random bombings across towns and cities can be heard.Of key significance was the point repeatedly raised by US generals of intelligence shared with Pakistan reaching the wrong quarters. The nexus between militants and intelligence agencies is of course immensely significant. The matter had also been brought up with Pakistan's prime minister in Washington. Most of us know, and fear, that the US concerns in this regard are not entirely without basis. If General Kayani and his highly professional team are to win the battle they are clearly committed to, then achieving this onerous task must be a prime responsibility. We all know this deadly network linking terrorists with agencies was set up with US support during the Afghan war. As such Pakistan's leadership must remind Washington of its duty to play a role in dismantling it, rather than simply flinging blame Pakistan's way. Success in this task is central to overcoming the militancy that has already torn the country apart. There is no weakness in seeking US assistance in this, for that country too must play a part in undoing the damage it has itself played a part in inflicting on Pakistan's war-ravaged northern areas, and indeed on the region as a whole.