BLAME is, understandably, a hot potato. Given that it is passed around even within a political party, one was not surprised at the exchange between the PPP and the PML(N) over the rising incidents of terrorism in the Punjab. The Interior Minister has stated that there are about 7000 militants present in southern Punjab. He went on to say that it was going to be the next Swat, a once-peaceful district that has unfortunately come to be used as a gold-standard adjective for militancy. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, on the other hand, didn't take too kindly to this. Visiting the injured after a bomb blast in Rawalpindi, he said that provincial governments aren't as equipped to deal with the scourge of militancy as the federal government is; if the federal government feels there is a problem, that too of the proportion the Minister describes, it should handle it. The CM is right in that the Interior Ministry should be cracking down on the militants, specially given the inter-provincial aspects of the militancy in the country. The quantum of intelligence reports on this loose federation of lunatics that the federal government has collected definitely makes the Interior Ministry well-placed to handle the situation. But it is unreasonable for the CM not to accept the blame here. Law and order is a provincial subject and it is his government's lot to take on the militants. Yes, the federal government can and should be approached to handle the crisis, but it is the CM that has the province's police force at his disposal. Militancy thrives in areas where the state leaves a vacuum. South Punjab, in the news for many reasons of late, didn't get as big a chunk of development budget in the provincial Annual Development Programme, as many think it should have. That was clearly on Mr Sharif's watch, not Mr Malik's. The PML(N)'s predilection of late to blame the PPP for everything that goes wrong in the province, is puerile.