THE deadly bomb attack in Mingora the other day that killed six people and wounded many others flies in the face of Prime Minister Gilanis hollow boast that the backbone of the terrorists has been broken; and it shows that the miscreants are now regrouping in the area. Indeed nothing can be further from truth. That the valley is once more sliding into violence and lawlessness should be recognised as the writing on the wall. The Governments oft-repeated claim that its military offensive in Swat had successfully been able to eliminate and drive out the troublemakers certainly rings false. Given Swats example, there is certainly reason to doubt official claims about victory in South Waziristan and other tribal areas. Militancy is a serious problem and requires more than just quick military fixes. The blast clearly points to a militant comeback in the Malakand region. Initially, when the army had stepped into the area with the intention of carrying out an offensive, a numbers of militants moved to safer areas waiting for the operation to end, while others took to the mountains to launch guerrilla attacks. There was only a fraction of them actually resisting the security forces face to face, which initially made it easy for the writ of the state to be established. Secondly, the security forces committed the mistake of not actually consolidating their gains for instance by setting up checkpoints in the areas that had been reclaimed; and rather preferred to have occasional patrols. Apart from the military strategy, the government also has been found wanting in its job of normalising the situation. Its failure at the very start to hammer out a political solution and then giving in to US pressure to resort to the use of brute force is a crucial factor that played a part in worsening the conflict. At this point in time, a political and economic approach is needed to prevent the region from reverting to violence and lawlessness. There is no doubt that hardcore criminal elements, which indulge in violence just for the sake of it, should be apprehended; but it is nonsensical to point the gun at those who are willing to come to the conference table. The bottom line is that talks are the only way forward. Along with that, the poverty and unemployment that breeds hatred for the government and is indeed a recruiting windfall for the militant groups also needs to be seriously tackled. It is a pity that rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the valley have been going on at a snails pace, something that would only intensify the sense of marginalisation among the locals.