Bomb blasts in Peshawar and Gilgit Baltistan on Thursday serve to remind that the problems Pakistan faces today are in no way restricted to North Waziristan Agency (NWA). The militant network is vast, ranging from the hills of FATA to the shores of Karachi, and there is no doubting the fact that it is still very much intact. They have incurred losses, abandoned certain strongholds, but they have not been decisively degraded. Old alliances have broken to give birth to fresh partnerships, some opting out and others uniting for their survival.

As Operation Zarb-e-Azb continues absent transparency and accountability in NWA, the bomb squad in Peshawar defused no less than six bombs on Thursday alone. The one that they couldn’t get to in time went off in a coaster leaving at least seven people dead and several injured. AIG Shafqat Malik described it as the “worst day” in his “professional career” and warned of the “tough days” that lie ahead. He also revealed that the bombs were of “advanced quality”, and “a pipe-bomb had the expertise only possessed by al-Qaeda”. These observations are not to be taken lightly.

Is this the backlash that everyone had expected in major urban centers in Punjab? How much space and material do the militants occupy in Peshawar allowing them to plant seven advanced bombs in a single day? Have efforts been made to identify suppliers, supply routes and buyers? Isn’t this what you call an intelligence failure? Is al-Qaeda enhancing its role in Pakistan by collaborating with other factions such as the Mohmand Taliban and Jundullah? Also, is it not an assumption that the military has completely abandoned terrorists or “assets” and decided to take them all on to remove the sword forever hanging over our heads? Its dealings with the Haqqani network, sectarian terrorists operating in Quetta and wider Balochistan as well as Punjab-based militants suggest otherwise. Can things be anything but ugly as long as this dangerous game of good terrorists and bad terrorists continues? Where does the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government come in all of this? Is KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak doing anything to deal with terrorism?

A recurring theme in the nightmare that is Pakistan’s security situation is the consistent victimisation of minority communities. Once again, a passenger van en route Haramost valley in Gilgit Baltistan (GB), a predominantly Shia locality, was targeted by a roadside bomb, killing at least three people and injuring another ten. There seems to be no end in sight for the horrific sectarian violence in GB. Are the security forces doing anything at all to prevent the bloodshed? Or are they too busy strategising and accommodating assets in Parachinar against the will and interests of existing clans including the Turi tribe? Operation Zarb-e-Azb will prove to be an epic failure and a complete waste of time if the larger problem of militancy and extremism is not addressed and flawed strategies revised.