NEW YORK - Taliban militants are teaming up with local militant groups to make inroads in Punjab, reinvigorating an alliance that poses a serious risk to the stability of Pakistan, The New York Times said in a lead story. Jointly written by six Times correspondents in Dera Ghazi Khan, Peshawar and Washington cited the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers and the bombing last fall of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad as only the most spectacular examples of the joint campaign, with police officials, local residents and analysts warning that if the government does not take decisive action, the impoverished fringes of Punjab could be the next areas facing the insurgency. American intelligence and counterterrorism officials also said they viewed the developments with alarm, the Times said in the dispatch with Dera Ghazi Khan dateline. As American drone attacks disrupt strongholds of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the tribal areas, the insurgents are striking deeper into Pakistan - both in retaliation and in search of new havens, it said. Militants have gained strength considerably in the district of Dera Ghazi Khan, which is a gateway both to Taliban-controlled areas and the heart of Punjab, the Times said, citing the police and local residents say. Many were terrified, it added. Some villages, just north of here, are so deeply infiltrated by militants that they are already considered no-go zones by their neighbours. In at least five towns in southern and western Punjab, including the midsize hub of Multan, barber shops, music stores and Internet cafes offensive to the militants strict interpretation of Islam have received threats. Traditional ceremonies that include drumming and dancing have been halted in some areas. Hard-line ideologues have addressed large crowds to push their idea of Islamic revolution. Sectarian attacks, dormant here since the 1990s, have erupted once again. Its going from bad to worse, said an unnamed senior police official in Dera Ghazi Khan. They are now more active. These are the facts. Bruce Riedel, who led the Obama administrations recently completed strategy review of Pakistan and Afghanistan, said the Taliban now had extensive links into the Punjab. You are seeing more of a coalescence of these militant groups, Riedel, a former CIA official, was quoted as saying. Connections that have always existed are becoming tighter and more public than they have in the past. The Punjabi militant groups have had links with the Taliban, who are mostly Pashtun tribesmen, since the 1980s, the dispatch said. Some of the Punjabi groups are veterans of Pakistans state-sponsored insurgency against Indian forces in Kashmir. Under pressure from the United States, former President Pervez Musharraf cut back state support for the Punjabi groups, the dispatch said. They either went underground or migrated to the tribal areas, where they deepened their ties with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The alliance is based on more than shared ideology, it said. These are tactical alliances, said a senior American counterterrorism official. The Pashtun Taliban and Arab militants, who are part of Al-Qaeda, have money, sanctuary, training sites and suicide bombers. The Punjabi militants can provide logistical help in Punjabi cities, like Lahore, including handling bombers and target reconnaissance. The cooperation between the groups intensified greatly after the governments siege of the militants at the Red Mosque in Islamabad, in mid-2007, Pakistani and American security officials say. The siege has since become a rallying cry. As this cooperation intensifies, places like Dera Ghazi Khan are particularly vulnerable, the Times said. This frontier town is home to a combustible mix of worries: poverty, a growing phalanx of hard-line religious schools and a uranium processing plant that is a part of Pakistans nuclear programme. It is also strategically situated at the intersection of two main roads. One is a main artery into Pakistans heartland, in southern Punjab. The other connects Balochistan Province in the west to the North-West Frontier Province, both Taliban strongholds.