THE TTP did not announce the death of Baitullah Mehsud for a number of days presumably because it has yet to agree on a successor. To many this would be indicative of internal rifts. There are reportedly a number of claimants to the leader's mantle including Baitullah's right hand man Hakimullah Mehsud, co-tribesman Azmatullah Mehsud and spokesman Mufti Waliur Rehman. As Baitullah was heading a coalition of militant groups, difficulties in contacting them might also have stood in the way of choosing the successor. It remains to be seen if the TTP manages to remain as united as it was under its deceased chief. However, the attack by Mehsud loyalists on rival Turkestan Bhitni's recruiting centre in Tank, leading to the death of 20, indicates that the apparatus he created remains intact and highly lethal. The Pakistan government is likely to come under pressure from Washington to make use of the confusion prevailing in the TTP and press ahead with the much awaited operation in South Waziristan. While there is a need to increase pressure on the militants to maintain the momentum, the decision to induct ground troops in the Agency must not be taken in haste. Baitullah's death presents the government an opportunity to bolster the authority of the Mehsud tribal elders despite most having been eliminated by the TTP chief. The matter needs to be discussed with the present and former parliamentarians from the area who are reportedly unhappy over the patronisation of Turkestan Bhitni by the army. Similarly there is a need to probe the effect the killing of the TTP chief might have produced on militant leaders in the two Waziristan Agencies like Maulvi Nazir, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Maulvi Sadiq Noor. It remains to be seen if they are amenable to reason now. What with its inhospitable terrain and battle-hardened tribesmen armed with modern weapons, the operation in South Waziristan would be no cakewalk. Diplomacy must therefore never be abandoned. While Baitullah is no more on the scene, his terror apparatus remains intact. This was indicated by a number of events on Friday. A search operation in Swat led to the killing of six militants while in Buner 50 laid down arms. In Lower Dir, five schools were torched and seven militants shot. Fearing a reaction from the TTP network in Punjab, the government had to launch a crack down on seminaries and suspected hideouts leading to scores of arrests. The government faces the onerous task of fighting the militants while simultaneously trying to improve the working of its security agencies. Whether the TTP remain united or not, the government cannot afford to lower its guard.