THE two explosions in Peshawar on Saturday that left 14 people dead, including two handicapped children and their teachers, and 35 injured, might well be a backlash to the intensified military operation in Malakand Division. In the first incident, a bus carrying special children was hit by shrapnel after a car bomb ripped through the congested Circular Road at 1:30 pm. Several vehicles parked outside an internet caf caught fire, while nearby houses and shops were partially damaged. Police arrested four persons who had resorted to aerial firing after the blast but remained unsure about the identities of the mastermind as well as the target. The same evening, another blast took place outside a cloth market in the Saddar area in which a child was killed and four others were wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility by any militant group. An intelligence official in Islamabad meanwhile told a foreign television channel that investigators were probing links to the Taliban. But at the same time the argument that the bombings could have been an act of retaliation against the ongoing military operation in Malakand Division cannot be disputed since more than 800 Taliban are believed to have been killed in the fresh offensive launched nine days ago. The militants might also be getting support from their counterparts operating in the restive tribal region, who are constantly being targeted by drones flown from Afghanistan. Twenty-nine people were killed when the remotely piloted aircraft fired missiles at a residential compound in North Waziristan on Saturday. It was the third strike in this month, but so far no high-value target has been killed in these drone attacks. It is time Pakistan told the Obama Administration to respect its sovereignty, especially after its request for the transfer of drone technology went unheeded. The resurgence of militancy has also to be dealt with on a war footing. There is no alterative to taking on the Taliban who have been challenging the writ of the state. The Army needs to be backed, to ease the pain of hundreds of thousands of people who left their homes from across Malakand Division and are enduring hardship at the makeshift camps set up in Mardan and elsewhere in the NWFP. The most pressing national obligation at the moment is to help the IDPs. But while coping with this issue, another serious challenge for the government would be to prevent militancy from spreading across the country. It could be best done by reassigning to the intelligence agencies their original task of keeping check on the activities of the elements posing threat to national security.