Pakistan is central to the fight against Taleban militants and al-Qaeda terrorists. Without the co-operation of its government or military, the campaign to rid the porous Afghan-Pakistan border region of extremists will fail. Afghan leaders and Nato military commanders well know this, but with an alarming rise in casualties and territory being lost, desperation is setting in. An unauthorised cross-border US ground raid against suspected militants in Pakistan's remote tribal region has caused a rift at a time when there should instead be a strengthening of teamwork. Whether a New York Times report that US President George W. Bush gave the go-ahead for such attacks without the need for the approval of Pakistan's government is correct has yet to be confirmed. Pakistan's leaders were outraged by last week's incident, which they claimed took the lives of civilians, not militants. They have a right to be angry: no matter how important the war in Afghanistan or the need to neutralise al-Qaeda, Pakistani territorial sovereignty must always be respected. Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, is in a difficult position. Like his predecessor, former coup leader and army chief Pervez Musharraf, he is seen by many Pakistanis as pro-American. That closeness is thought to be helping drive the rise of anti-government militancy in the country. Yet his help is crucial if the Taleban and al-Qaeda are to be defeated. Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told American lawmakers on Wednesday that he did not believe the fight in Afghanistan was being won and had ordered a 'new, more comprehensive military strategy'. He did not give particulars, but it is clear that the approach has to be based on more foreign troops being deployed to Afghanistan and the stepped-up training of Afghan forces. Governments which have pledged billions of dollars to build infrastructure have to make good on their promises. Afghanistan's government must work harder to crack down on corruption. But another issue, just as important, has to be tackled: working co-operatively with Pakistan. It is a matter that has to be done sensitively, in a true partnership and with respect.