AS bomb attacks go, Saturday’s blast in Lahore is of the more mysterious variety. Late on Sunday, police said the Baloch Liberation Tigers claimed the attack, another splinter group in the ever-murkier insurgency in Balochistan appearing intent on grabbing the headlines. Whatever the veracity of that claim, the blast, coming a month after the PML-N government was sworn in, completes a grim national map of violence: no province or region of the country has been left untouched in the past month. That the PML-N has indicated it intends to hold a summit on national security soon is a good beginning. That the issue of national security has taken several weeks to come to the fore is another few vital weeks in the fight against militancy lost.
The problems in fighting militancy are fairly well known by this stage. At every level, strategic, operational, tactical, there is confusion and a lack of direction and coordination. That is a problem that a summit, or 10 summits on national security will not solve. To begin with, what is needed is for the army and the politicians to lead together. Neither side can craft policy on their own and expect it to succeed. And once a policy is crafted, the age-old problem of Pakistan will need to be addressed: implementation. There is a sense, rightly so, that different regions require a different approach. The Baloch insurgency, the anti-Shia Hazara violence in Balochistan, the TTP in Fata and KP, and militant groups operating in Punjab and Karachi, each needs a specialised response within an overall anti-militancy strategy. And each of the national actors needs to accept their failings: if the army seems too eager to cut deals with some militants in Fata, the PML-N has courted extremist support in Punjab, and the PPP, MQM and ANP in Karachi have all abdicated their responsibility to the denizens of the country’s largest city. Will a solution evolve out of the present mess? There is really no choice.