THE assassination of firebrand cleric Allama Ali Sher Haideri is bound to set off a cycle of tit-for-tat killings between the hawkish fringes on either side of Pakistan's main sectarian divide. And as is the norm, whereas these cycles start off with the death of a known leader, the subsequent violence is primarily reserved for regular folk who happen to fall under the wrong sectarian denomination at the wrong time. This particular brand of restlessness, yet another leftover from the Zia years, has been going on unabated since the 1980s. The Allama, for instance, is the third consecutive chief of the now banned Sipah-e-Sahaba to be murdered. Many cities have seen a partial strike as supporters have taken out processions demanding the government get hold of the culprits. Though the murder took place in Sindh, tensions have risen in many other parts of the country, particularly that sectarian powder-keg, Jhang, the district which also happens to be the birthplace of the Sipah, which was banned in 2002 only to emerge as a renamed Millat-e-Islamia. It is time, more than ever, for the state to step in and stem the rot that has taken so many lives. The solution should be sustainable and not a just a usual rearrangement of names that takes place after militant organizations are banned. The state should protect ordinary citizens from firebrand extremists and, it has to be added, it should also protect the said leaders themselves as well.