Los Angeles, Feb 26 : Pakistan is unlikely to rally further behind US-led war on terror and fight the militants despite victories of secular parties in the February 18 polls.
To many Pakistanis, the armed confrontation with Islamic radicals remains "America's war," one whose cost in blood has been borne by Pakistani troops with little perceived benefit to this country.
Pakistan's role in President Bush's "war on terrorism" was a significant factor in a separate outpouring of voter fury last week against President Pervez Musharraf, who is seen as far too willing to do the military bidding of the United States.
Analysts have said that it would be a big mistake to interpret the election results as a sign that Pakistanis are ready to support an intensified military campaign sought by the US against pro-Taliban and al Qaeda militans, the Los Angeles Times has said.
At both the provincial and national levels, the prominent political players are emphasising the need to use military force more judiciously, step up economic development in the impoverished tribal areas and give more weight to tribal based negotiations.
Leaders of the two major opposition parties that have pledged to form a governing coalition -- Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif -- have spoken of the need to engage militants in dialogue.
So has the Awami National Party, which secured the largest share of votes in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). It is expected to lead the provincial coalition and become a partner in the national one.
The party has long fought for the rights of Pashtuns, the tribe that dominates the rugged territory straddling the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Although the fundamentalist Taliban arose from Pashtun areas, the Awami National Party is secular in its outlook.
The party's provincial chairman, Afrasiab Khattak, pointed out that jirgas, or traditional negotiating sessions to hash out grievances, are a central tenet of Pashtun culture.
"People are sick of violence and conflict in our region," Khattak said. "We oppose actions and policies that lead to war."
However, Western military officials concur that a successful strategy against the insurgents must include elements other than military force, such as more funding for education, job training and social welfare.
But they do not want to see a repeat of past truces between the militants and the Pakistan Government, which they believe gave insurgent groups a priceless opportunity to rebuild networks broken by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Perhaps sensing fresh opportunity, senior Pakistani militant leader Baitullah Mehsud on Sunday declared willingness to engage in dialogue with the new governing coalition.
"Those kinds of agreements got us nowhere -- got us worse than nowhere," a Western military official said of past accords, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss policy matters.
Still, he and others said the new Pakistani government's as-yet-undetermined strategy to counter the militants would have greater public legitimacy than Musharraf's, and that is considered a plus.