On Tuesday, in the heart of Lahore, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group Jamaatul Ahrar struck at police headquarters in the Qila Gujjur Singh area. At least eight fatalities have been confirmed at the time of the writing of this editorial and dozens of injuries are reported. This is the second major terrorist attack claimed by Jamaatul Ahrar in Lahore in recent months after the Wagah border attack in November of last year that claimed the lives of 60 people. Both attacks in the Punjab have been significant and symbolic attacks on the state’s security forces, and are therefore direct confrontations between visible arms of government and anti-government forces.

With the implementation of the National Action Plan following the Peshawar school attack, and the lifting of the moratorium on death penalties, the general belief is that attacks following Dec 16. are backlash for state mobilisation against terrorists. However, there has been no significant increase in the frequency or scale of terrorism attacks following the beginning of the crackdown. In fact, it has largely been business as usual for the TTP and they are carrying out the same nature of attacks with the same kind of frequency across the country as they were before Operation Zarb-e-Azb and the NAP came into effect. This means two things, both good and bad. The good thing is, this shows that they do not have the additional resources, manpower and intelligence to fight back in a way that would correspond with the “great backlash” narrative we all fear. In short, they can only claim that their attacks are in response to the crackdown, but the attacks themselves have remained static in severity. That is the good news; that they simply don’t have the means to muster up greater strength. The bad news is that their operations have not been seriously hampered as yet by the operation in North Waziristan or the National Action Plan. Nothing has changed, and by now some cracks should have begun to show. Some might argue that it will take more time to significantly damage TTP operations within the country and that is a fair point. However, with basic intelligence failures in the heart of the Punjab leading to attacks such as the one Lahore police saw on Tuesday, there is cause for real concern.

For now, though it might be too early to make any real comment on the effects of the NAP, advice to those running the program is simple: strengthen intelligence. This is a war of communication and logistics, not one-off raids, arrests and hangings.