THE demand for cracking down on militant organisations has picked up in the wake of the Quetta blast last week which killed more than 90 people. The federal government has been taken to task for failing to protect lives and as tough questions are asked, the army has been heard denying any ties with the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi which claimed responsibility for the attack. There has been a build-up of public anger and a number of statements and newspaper articles have pointed out the urgency of all parties closing ranks to defeat terrorist strikes carried out in the name of religion. But even if this mood is seen as holding out hope for a concerted drive against the militants, in practical terms there is insufficient support by key players. News reports have gone to the extent of shaming political parties over striking convenient alliances with militants for political gains — something which unfortunately is bound to be repeated when elections are held. There have been impassioned pleas for provincial governments, too, to come out of their comfort zones and contribute to the fight against the militants. The government of Mian Shahbaz Sharif in Punjab has been a particular target of criticism on this count, and this criticism has increased after Interior Minister Rehman Malik stated the explosive material used in the Quetta blast had been procured in Lahore and renewed his call to the Punjab government to launch an operation against the LJ.

PML-N circles have reacted to the ‘allegation’ with the standard two-pronged argument. Party members have as per routine countered accusations of links with militant groups by blaming opposing parties of having connections with the same militants. On the administrative level, a PML-N spokesman used an old tactic when he lamented the failure of Rehman Malik and his government to share with Punjab crucial information, gathered by the federal intelligence agencies, about a possible strike. This was a typical exchange between two governments that remain at loggerheads. On the whole it is politics that reeks of disrespect for the dead and apathy for the people of Pakistan whose lives are in peril.

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