JUST go around the town and watch the policemen manning the scores of check posts set up in what are considered to be sensitive spots, and you know the answer to the repeated successful terrorist forays that first take out these very guards and then set about their business of mowing down innocent civilians. The posse of usually three policemen would either be listlessly watching the passers-by, or seen huddled together in a private conversation with their guns casually slung over their shoulders, or surrounding a poor motorcyclist helping him find a way to avoid the charge of traffic violation. The situation could hardly ever be different anywhere else in the country. Wherever a terrorist has been caught, killed or wounded, it is almost always because the assailants prolonged the operation, sensing an open killing field before them, and the security forces had time to get reinforcements. It seems that these fatal lacunae in the system have somehow never caught the attention of the high-ups who devise the security strategy. When the Chief Minister, other Ministers and the police top brass come out of their secure abodes, the situation suddenly changes: there is alertness in the air. What happened at Jinnah Hospital, Lahore, on Monday night where an injured militant, captured during the 28 May terrorist attacks, was under treatment and his cohorts wanted him freed, can be explained by the poor planning and execution of the strategy (as depicted above) designed to provide security to the general populace. No doubt, while the attackers have a clear target before them, time to plan and the liberty to disguise themselves - the four terrorists who launched the operation at Jinnah Hospital came in police uniform - the security forces usually remain in the dark. But it should have been clear to the police bosses what is called for to meet such a challenge. Better training, appropriate, protective gear - both in equipment and uniform - are some of the basic components of any security arrangement. In all these spheres, our forces are deficient. As a result, the effort to free or kill the wounded militant, though remaining abortive, caused the death of six persons, including three policemen, and injuries to several others, while the assailants succeeded in escaping. As for the injured terrorist, his presence at the hospital should have been a closely guarded secret; in fact, he should have been at an unknown clinic under a heavy security umbrella. The terrorist phenomenon in the province has to be thoroughly investigated to get to the truth, especially as the voices announcing the existence of militant groups in southern Punjab are getting louder. Interior Minister Rehman Malik charged the other day that it was these groups that were coming out in the open and had become active in the entire province. The charge has either to be denied with facts and figures, or confirmed, and in the case of confirmation, suitably tackled.