The spine-chilling sounds of emergency sirens in Europe used to signify that one had arrived in a country where emergency services were present. We had nothing like that in Pakistan then. The only sirens heard in Karachi emanated from the lone outrider of the president's motorcade (no one else was entitled to even this in the days of yore), or the discreet clanging of the Fire Brigade's bells. Today, all day, one sees and hears little Suzukis darting through dense, non-cooperative traffic, blaring sirens in desperation. Inadequate they may be, but they are the only ones available. The past years have led to greater fears generated each time one hears this sound. It is no longer just linked with individual medical emergencies. There have been uncountable blasts, devastating, big and small, across the length and breadth of the country. The respite is never long enough to regenerate confidence. Its bread and butter for residents now. A matter of keeping one's fingers crossed; of not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As London was when the IRA was in full spate. Deaths, disasters and tragedies are mourned but mischief is abhorred. It is this that has created such intense hatred for those perpetrating these horrific acts. With it comes this feeling of utter helplessness. Leading to despair. The terrorists have made things easier for investigators with the use of suicide bombers. Some part of these psychopathic creatures is always found at the site bringing the investigation to an immediate conclusion. Helpless we may be, but it doesn't stop us from demanding that there should be a perpetual investigation for unearthing the diabolical source of this terror. We need to find that "core" and source the cure. Perhaps it's time for a permanent Central Terror Management Cell to be established with our American friends providing us with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and training. More than that employing Pakistani staff at their counter terrorism organisations so that a "hands-on" exposure is available. It's not happening this way though. The Americans are happy to come and teach our personnel here, so that they can have free access to the theatre but do not trust ours implicitly to give them access to theirs'. I guess the philosophical answer is that not all relationships are equal. This past week has seen hell unleashed. The Indian embassy in Kabul was viciously attacked. Within hours, there was a series of "warning shots" in Karachi. All of this on or around the "anniversary" of the Lal Masjid storming. All three events, whether in isolation or linked, have terrible repercussions for this country. The Indians as always ever ready to jump down our throat have us on the defensive with the prime minister compelled to make a denial of our involvement while overseas. When this happens in Kabul, not some desolate province, it causes serious concern. The Americans and NATO are there in vast numbers, gathering intelligence, and fighting the terrorists. There is an Afghan force that has been raised. Why can they not take preventive measures, reach the source? The episode in Karachi is bizarre. Targeted at the peripheral city, mainly inhabited by people from the North, these were big patakhas. The intent, it is quite clear, was to create panic but also mischievously to arouse ethnic anger within a potentially volatile people. Only recently a truce of sorts was reached between the leadership of the two ethnic parties, therefore, this attempt on the part of, as usual, "unknown" terrorists to further destabilise the fragile situation must be denounced in strong terms. Arrests have been announced, pronouncements promising resolution and discovery are being heard from all quarters. But will it lead to anything? That is the question we all ask ourselves. Scepticism abounds. With this country already heavily beset with the Pirs and Dargas, totally alien to Islam, it is unbelievable that government permitted the collection at Lal Masjid. The pilgrimages to the hundreds of Saints are a regular part of Pakistani society. Be it in Sindh, Punjab or the NWFP. I am personally not aware of a Sufi Saint in Balochistan but there may just be. And if not, governments' murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti has created an icon right there. Islam promotes tolerance and therefore if Muslims wish to practice these rituals who am I to object. Strange names crop up, almost folklore by now, and these men are proclaimed leaders of Islam. Their bands ravage and control. The area's population in abject fear and surrender. Last it was Baitullah Mehsud. Everything was attributed to him. Then Fazlullah. And now Mangal Bagh. A chronology of their "achievements" is suddenly released. It seems they have been around for years. If that is so, why didn't we hear of them? More importantly why were they not stopped before the rampage? For now, we live under the Taliban's avowed threat that they are "everywhere". Well they have shown up in Islamabad and Karachi. Although they deny Kabul, that is perhaps to ensure support of our neighbours. Security has been beefed up in the Punjab. It is very possible that the howl of the sirens will be heard again, unfortunately, soon. On the face of it nothing is being done, beyond preventive measures, to avert it. The real concern is whether the law enforcement agencies in this country are even prepared to engage in prolonged investigations leading to discovery of this core. Capability is one thing, will is even more important. This is where vision counts, where the expression of clear political ideology and direction becomes the beacon light for the country to follow. If we are to pay ransom to an armed and vicious minority we are making the fatal mistake of surrender. Under the present circumstances, it will not be that Peshawar is being stormed, we will all be drowned by the flood of terror. Only to discover too late that the depth of the water was no more than three feet. All that was needed was for us to stand erect. Tragically howling sirens may have become music to the ears of terrorists, but they have also created deafness within the administration. Ignoring or neglecting the situation is a recipe for disaster. That is if the pot hasn't fouled already. The writer is a Karachi-based political and economic analyst E-mail: