IN OTHER WORDS

Only hope:

When Pervez Musharraf was running Pakistan he repeatedly cut deals with tribal leaders in the border areas intended to calm the country’s lawless regions. The results were always disastrous. The Taliban and Al Qaeda used the time to regroup and launch attacks both inside Pakistan and against Afghanistan. Now Pakistan’s newly elected civilian government is trying again. We doubt it will have any more luck. The new leaders will need to do a better job than Musharraf monitoring developments along the border. And they need to develop a military fallback plan for when this deal falls apart.

American officials need to work quietly with the new government to lay the ground for a new military strategy, should the peace agreement unravel. And it needs to do a lot more to help strengthen Pakistan’s democracy and improve the lives of ordinary Pakistanis. The Bush administration may — finally — throw its weight behind Senator Joseph Biden’s call for a 2.5-billion-dollar package of additional nonmilitary aid. The administration and Congress should approve that aid immediately.

That will give the new government more political room to go after the militants if yet another peace deal falls apart. And it is the only hope of persuading Pakistanis that this is

more than just Washington’s fight. — The New York Times