THE killing of 20 more people in Swat, with the unconfirmed reports putting the fatalities to 40 that also include women and children, has forced the local population to move out of their houses in search for safety. As the operation entered its fifth day, the death toll has risen to 80, with many more injured, in attacks by the security forces that continue to claim that they are only targeting the hideouts of militants. The sad aspect of the whole episode is that the locals could not even take away the dead bodies due to the imposition of curfew. The security forces stepped up operations after the federal government announced that it had adopted a new strategy to deal with the militants engaged in blowing up schools and targeting government officials. Three troops were killed, when militants attacked security personnel guarding the Mingora-Kabal road on Sunday while trying to ensure safe passage for their convoy passing through the area. Four militants were killed and six others arrested when the Army fired back. Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaque Parvez Kayani, who visited Swat the other day and gave fresh direction to his commanders, expressed his resolve to establish the writ of the state. The Army's involvement became inevitable after the government's failure to wrest back the restive region, once a popular tourist resort, from the control of Maulvi Fazlullah and his accomplices. Elderly politician Afzal Khan Lala's view that the army and the Taliban were regarded as two sides of the same coin may be misplaced, but that reflects the general perception in Swat. It is however the NWFP government that would have to share the blame for letting the militants regroup in the area following the radicalization of the tribal areas. It is noteworthy that Federal Narcotics Minister Kh Muhammad Khan Hoti has resigned in protest against his leadership, for its failure to improve the law and order situation in Swat and Hangu. The ANP has now to stop playing to the gallery by repeatedly accusing major political parties of being indifferent to the massacres of Pushtuns in the tribal areas and elsewhere in the NWFP. It is time its leadership put its act together and sincerely endeavoured to contain the growth of terrorism, renouncing the policies of the clerics who have turned the province into the militants' stronghold. Else, this habit of having one's cake and eating it too is going to make the party pay heavily in the next elections. It also bears repeating that the federal government cannot abdicate its responsibility for maintaining the law and order by seeking the Army's help to establish its writ. The practice of relying on force alone without using the other two components of the 3D policy, dialogue and development, would further exacerbate the crisis.