THE federal government should pay close attention to Aftab Ahmed Sherpaos warning that a military operation in South Punjab would have catastrophic consequences, along with his suggestion that only surveillance and limited police action against certain militant outfits are needed. Southern Punjab or the Seraiki belt for that matter, is a relatively peaceful area and while the presence of some militant groups cannot be ruled out, as evidenced from some terrorist attacks, the fact remains they are in small numbers and besides are not organised enough to create panic. Secondly, South Punjab is totally different in that there are no 'no go areas, unlike Swat or tribal areas, where the militants have openly challenged the writ of the state. Besides, the so-called terrorist groups, believed to be based in the south, have a totally different political agenda and are poles apart from hardcore outfits like the TTP. Granted, some spots of southern Punjab have been rocked by sectarian strife, but that cannot be confused with Al-Qaeda or other militants. Thirdly, a factor so far the government has been neglecting is that in South Punjab, the police and the state apparatus are fully functional, ensuring law and order and the writ of the state. Therefore, as suggested by Mr Sherpao, the troublemakers, if there are any, can be apprehended with good intelligence and policing. It would be an invitation to disaster, if tanks and gunship helicopters were sent for nabbing a few criminal gangs, which could be effectively nailed by intelligence agencies and the police. Interior Minister Rehman Malik is either tilting at windmills or trying to please the White House when he says that a military operation on the pattern of tribal areas would be launched in South Punjab. Given the zeal with which the US itself is now giving preference to a political solution in Afghanistan, its cries of do more and opening up a new front in Punjab reflects the Americans double standards and questionable agenda for Pakistan.