US envoy Richard Holbrooke Thursday defended the military, which has been launching 'softening up' operations in South Waziristan for more than a month.
They will protect residents returning to Swat and Buner. Some have fled again after seeing Taliban in the area, despite a major Army offensive.
For reasons of geography, ethnicity, military inferiority, and ancient rivalries, they represent neither the immediate threat that is often portrayed nor the inevitable victors that the West fears.
Many welcomed the US president's conciliatory tone and references to Islamic history. Skeptics pointed to the price Pakistan pays for ongoing US involvement in Afghanistan.
The 1.5 million displaced Pakistanis displaced are waiting in squalid camps to go home. The US offered $110 million in new aid on Tuesday.
Some 501,000 Pakistanis have fled the fighting in Swat and nearby areas as the Army dropped commandos in by helicopter.
Their fear of the Islamic militants may not translate into support for the government, whose attacks in Swat forced them to flee.
Residents living between the militants and the capital worry their understaffed security forces can't defend their town.
Authorities arrested hundreds of lawyers and activists and banned public gatherings in two provinces.
If militants are home-grown, domestic ambivalence about vilifying such groups could be diminished.