The extremism that is threatening to mire Pakistan in the same chaos suffocating Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be resolved by its leaders alone. This is a regional problem and the solution lies in mediation by the region's governments. While the bloodshed this month would seem to have been precipitated by a tug-of-war between President Pervez Musharraf and fundamentalist Muslims, the situation is far more complex. Interwoven are political, ethnic, economic, diplomatic and social dimensions that are as much a matter for Pakistan as Afghanistan and regional powers India and Iran. Without peace, India's and Iran's economic interests, driven by oil, will be jeopardised. Fighters of the Islamist Taleban, trying to return to power in Afghanistan, are said to be taking orders from a Pakistan-based leadership. Ethnic Pashtun in both countries are pushing for a homeland. Then there is the Muslim fundamentalism sweeping the region that has taken firm hold in Pakistan. Swiftly organised dialogue under the umbrella of impartial UN mediation is needed as an effective way of ensuring stability. General Musharraf is walking a tightrope between his people, Muslim fundamentalism and the US, with which he has firmly sided in its war on terror. Placating all three is impossible - with the result that suspicions abound as to where his allegiances truly lie. An accord signed between General Musharraf and ethnic leaders in lawless areas bordering Afghanistan, in which military action was scaled back in return for a pledge to contain militancy, was hailed by the president as offering peace, for example. US intelligence officials in a report released on Tuesday saw it as giving breathing space to and strengthening the hand of the terrorist group al-Qaeda, whose leaders are believed to be hiding in the area. The president is also fighting for political survival. Pressures are mounting for him to resign and return the nation to the democracy that existed before he seized power in a coup in 1999. He has promised to step aside when general elections are held in October. But democracy alone will not end the killings. Only through a regional approach can there be peace in Pakistan.