Baitullah Mehsud's death has been a formidable setback for the Tehrik-i-Taliban, however, the aftermath may prove to be highly volatile for Pakistan in the form of a fresh spate of terrorist attacks. The August 27 suicide bombing of the residential barrack of the Khasadar force in the Khyber Agency resulting in 22 deaths suggests just that. This was followed by a suicide attack at Mingora police training centre on August 29 which has claimed at least 17 policemen's lives and yet again, by another attack near Litambar police station which resulted in the death of another three policemen, including DSP Shafqat Khan. After Baitullah's death, rumours were circulating concerning the Taliban being in disarray. The administration and media, alike, reported infighting and a lack of cohesion between the various factions. This was a logical assumption primarily because the Tehrik-i-Taliban is a movement which lacks a formal structure or hierarchy, for that matter. The most powerful commander claims the top slot. Therefore, Baitullah with his 30,000 odd soldiers and finances that were rumoured to be in the billions was the undisputed chief. The few distant runner ups emerged after his demise to contend for the vacant post and the treasure that came with it. However, a recent Taliban statement suggests that opposing groups have somewhat reconciled and tentatively acquiesced in favour of Hakimullah's leadership. Hakimullah Mehsud has, at the moment, been able to convince the 42-member shura and establish himself as the most powerful commander. He controls three agencies: Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber, similar to Baitullah and commands approximately 8,000 soldiers much less than the 30,000 under the slain TTP chief. Under the new compact, Waliur Rehman will lead the movement in South Waziristan and Maulvi Faqir Muhammad is said to be the second in command. Hakimullah not only has to consolidate his authority but also counter reports of the weakening state of the Taliban. There has been discord amongst experts and analysts on whether there will be a shift in the Taliban strategy whereby they would primarily concentrate their resources to attack US-NATO forces across the border. The recent terrorist incidents, Hakimullah's statements and his track record - he has claimed responsibility for the June 9 bombing of the Pearl Continent in Peshawar and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team - suggest otherwise. Hakimullah has categorically stated that the Swat military operation and Baitullah's death will be avenged. The recent suicide bombings suggest his strategy entails a massive dose of terrorist attacks within Pakistan. Be this as it may, a nuanced shift in tactics is likely to become increasingly apparent in so far as the targets of the terrorist attacks are concerned. The attacks in the last few days have been directed exclusively at security personnel. Hakimullah's predecessor's indiscriminate acts of terrorism were a key factor in altering public opinion in favour of a military offensive against the Taliban. Another reason for the shift of public sentiment was the disjointed messages that were emanating from the Taliban camp. A fundamental difference between the Al-Qaeda and Taliban has been the use of mass media. Al-Qaeda's propaganda strategy has been synchronised and in tune with their warped ideology. Unlike Baitullah, Al-Qaeda leaders have not shied away from the media and have used every opportunity to expound themselves as champions of Islam and the Muslim ummah. Hakimullah has consistently been accessible to the media and, in this sense he seems to be emulating the Al-Qaeda leadership. The government can ill-afford to lose the moral high ground that has been reached in this war for which the people of Pakistan paid a heavy price in the form of thousands of civilian lives, the capitulation of Swat and the misery that millions of IDPs suffered in mismanaged camps. However, the present socio-economic grievances in the form of inflation, food and electricity shortages, perceived and real injustices, economic disparity and unemployment has rendered this hard-won support fragile. The slightest shift in the Taliban strategy may, therefore, unleash the "it's not our war" slogans again. Baitullah Mehsud's death after the drone attack of August 5 has definitely weakened the Taliban movement. Intelligence, implementation of preemptive measures and a strong military offence has turned the tide in our favour. Yet, the war is far from over. The new Taliban leadership should not be underestimated. The military option, although essential, must not be the only strategy that the current administration should be relying on. Socio-economic relief is as essential as military might. In the end it will be the mood of the people that will sway the outcome of this war. The writer is editor-in-chief of Criterion Quarterly E-mail: