The previous government failed badly in the tribal areas, leaving its people at the mercy of militant groups. The policy to fight terrorism was run by Musharraf and his cronies who were completely alienated from the public. It was not possible for a government with as little public support as theirs to effectively fight extremism. Start-stop, back and forth policy of military operations made the situation so bad that it will now take quite some time to bring it back to normal. The Taliban pose a major threat to the Pakistani state in the areas they operate in. Despite these problems, the PPP government has tried hard to negotiate with them. All these efforts, though, dashed to the ground because of inflexibility shown from the other side. Look at the compromising stance of the government; despite having announced that no one would be allowed to challenge writ of the government or use Pakistan's soil for terrorist activities, they have halted the military operation before and during the holy month of Ramadan. This is a welcome step from the present government. All eyes are now fixed on the militants. Would they step down for peace? -AYESHA SHEIKH, Lahore, September 8.