SHIREEN M MAZARI The terrorist attack in Lahore targeting a Special Investigative Unit has once again highlighted all the things wrong with our government and the state structures, especially when it comes to dealing with the terrorist problem. The plethora of statements, coming from various segments of the state in the immediate aftermath of the blast, shows the confusion that still prevails when it comes to the terrorist threats. There seems to be no proactive policy at the macro level to tackle the issue pre-emptively with good human intelligence and isolation of the militants and their supporters amongst the populace. After all, without local informants and local support, non-state actors cannot get shelter. In military terms, for the militants, a local sympathetic population forms their rear and it is here that they blend in to carry out their lethal activities. So the first job of the intelligence set-ups and the government should be to ensure that the local population not only does not support the militants but also gives information about suspicious activities in their neighbourhoods. It does not seem possible that strangers simply drove into Model Town, found the target and carried out their terrorism. In urban residential areas, especially, it is easy for terrorists to blend in and watch their targets once they have been correctly identified. At the very least the government needs to encourage local watch groups so that suspicious people or strangers are identified and checked. These are abnormal times and require measures on an emergency footing. Television can aid in educating the public on how to arrange for local watch patrols and so on. Equally important, it is absolutely necessary for the government to move interrogation and other high profile targets out of residential areas where innocent citizens lives can be placed in jeopardy. Locating such centres in the midst of schools and homes is showing scant regard for the lives of the citizens. Ironically, this was not the first time that an intelligence office located in Model Town was targeted; yet the government made no attempt to remove this interrogation set-up from this residential area. It stands to reason that militants would want to get rid of detained people who may reveal sensitive information. So all such interrogation centres are high value targets for them. At a more general level, the state needs to be clear who are the groups they are fighting in terms of the terrorist threat. We seem to be particularly weak on this count. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the latest Lahore attack but Rehman Malik and Punjabs Law Minister Rana Sanaullah have identified the hand of RAW and India in this attack. First, this raises the question of what linkage is there between India and the Pakistan Taliban? Second, since there now seems to be a fair amount of evidence of India aiding and abetting terrorism in Pakistan, why are we not taking up this issue, not only with India but also with the international community - especially Indias strategic partners like the US? What is stopping us from revealing the information we have on Indias covert terrorist activities in Pakistan? Linked to this is the whole question of the presence of thousands of Americans across Pak-istan, mostly non-diplomats and linked to private security companies, who are carrying out all manner of clandestine activities in Pakistan which are harmful for this country. Not only do they present a security threat to the neighbourhood in which they live, they also undermine the countrys security by conducting covert operations often without the knowledge of the Government of Pakistan. It is believed that the Model Town SIA building was also accessed by the Americans for interrogation purposes. If this is correct, then the government needs to answer to the people as to why this was being allowed in an urban residential area given the target they presented. But the issue is much more extensive. The government needs to collate how many American non-diplomat citizens are presently in Pakistan, where they are located, what they are up to and whether any of them have dual nationality of Israel. Their movements need to be kept under watch as well as limited to non-sensitive locations and areas - which would exclude the cantonment areas of the urban centres. It would appear the government is not clear on these numbers, nor on what different groups of Americans and US NGOs are up to. Yet without clear and precise information, no headway can be made in combating the terrorist threat effectively. Linked to the criticality of information through good human intelligence, we also need to understand the multiple nature of the terrorist threat in Pakistan - ranging from the religious extremists to political separatists. Since the targets of these different groups are different and their methodology is also distinctive in each case, by understanding these characteristics better security arrangements can be made and pre-emptive action taken. Within this framework, it is also of crucial importance to be able to identify the funding sources of these groups including foreign state actors like India, and the US specifically in the case of Jundullah. The mindsets of the terrorists need to be studied but not in a simplistic manner that seems to define the present approach where everyone is lumped together in one general category and simple explanations surround the whys of terrorist behaviour. Patterns of behaviour if they are properly identified can predict possible future targets so that proper security measures can be taken instead of the present vague security barricades which have at best very limited utility. Finally, the political one-upmanship that one saw in Lahore between the governor and the PML-Ns law minister shows the callous approach of the ruling elite to the plight of the ordinary people suffering the terrorism fallout. It is surely time for the rulers to get over their internecine political bickering and confront the task of dealing with terrorism at multiple levels and with a seriousness that is still not visible. Mere statements after the incident ring increasingly hollow as nothing seems to have changed by the time the next act of terror happens. The loot sales taking place in state institutions need to be replaced with serious governance and a focus on law and order that goes beyond crude police brutality and torture. And the shift in direction of governance has to be visible to restore a modicum of the peoples faith in their government.