Pakistan's cooperation is of vital importance to US interests in Afghanistan, but so far Zardari's government has not been any more successful than its predecessor in checking the extremists in the northwestern areas, despite stepped up operations. Part of the reason for this is that the militants are seen as valuable proxies in a hostile regional context. Foremost among the fears of the Pakistani leadership is that New Delhi is bent on encircling militarily and isolating Pakistan and fomenting its fragmentation along ethnic lines. This fear has been fuelled by India's forward policy in Afghanistan and north of Afghanistan as well as its increasing alignment with Washington. Far from being irrational, as is often claimed, these concerns are grounded in Pakistan's history. In order for an effective strategy to counter extremism to emerge in Pakistan, the perceptions that guide Pakistani foreign policy have to be given due attention and concrete steps taken to improve Indo-Pakistan relations, starting from the Kashmiri issue.