The latest wave of terrorist attacks particularly in Islamabad, Rawa-lpindi, Lahore and Peshawar sent sordid shockwaves besides causing death and destruction. Understandably, the most appalling was the GHQ foray which denotes the best bastion of our war potential. Its final outcome, as projected by ISPR, was a pyrrhic victory. It was so confusing that some people believed it to be an 'inside job with 'strategic purpose. For an average Pakistani, it is difficult to stomach that a few persons can breach the symbol of our naked power by impersonating as soldiers. The marauders held over 40 hostages besides killing quite a few others. One can appreciate the constraint behind tolerating a 24-hour long embarrassing drama to save the hostages. However, it will remain a disturbing mystery as to how they got in despite an alleged warning given earlier by the Special Branch. The nation irks as we face the fallout of the current war. For Lahore, it was a dj vu all the way. FIA headquarters had a similar breach of its security earlier on. So did Manawan Police Training School besides the elite force outlet in Bedian. It indicates that the political bosses in Lahore spend more time on shoddy point scoring and less on issues of security of life and property of their exploited wards. No wonder, they find time to visit the 'London home every now and then. Luckily despite the widespread corruption, there are still some officers who tend to be above-board. They are, however, plagued by political interference which compromises their professional performance perpetually. Unfortunately, the federal set up also leaves much to be desired. Peshawar has been surviving dangerously in an ominous milieu lately. This is due to its proximity to the western border. While some persons have made a quick buck, generally, in shady transactions, political or otherwise, the people remain poor. Its wealth has been badly depleted by terrorism and the army operation in Swat which rendered over three million people IDP. Traditions induced a large number of people all over the country to help their kith and kin in distress in every conceivable manner. In this connection, the areas nearer to Swat and Buner performed creditably, generally, while even in Islamabad private help for the IDP figured fervently. The government camps were slow to start which caused considerable suffering. Now it faces a new crisis as the IDP leave South Waziristan due to the operation 'Rah-e-Nijat. One hopes that the government agencies would do well despite the pressures let loose by the prevailing insecurity. The success of the military operation would also be influenced by the relief extended to the IDP. With the start of the latest military operations, the federal government has warned the people that there may be more terrorist attacks. Given our poor governance, engendered by systemic failures due to political interference as much as by the lack of combat resources, it scares people. While our forces are, generally, brave as has been proved by the fight against mayhem, they also have handicaps which maybe cultural. Except for the army in a battle mode, the same tend to prevail as a matter of habit in the forces, more so the police. These need to be defined so that officers, particularly the honest ones, can devise measures to guard against such negative impact. With hindsight and as a student of terrorism and security, I feel the following merit serious focus. First, whenever there is a lull in terrorist attacks, those on duty within cities appear to be, generally, taking it easy. It may not be mala fide, but the outcome thereof is freedom of movement and association for the adversaries. This maybe due to malnutrition, inadequate training and discipline, but it produces a yawning gap between the mission and its realisation. Apparently, this caused the terrorists in the above-mentioned attacks, almost like always, to follow their plans unhindered initially. If the security personnel had intervened to decipher the charade put up by the enemy about 200 yards from the GHQ gate, the cost of the hit back would have been much less. This could have happened if the relevant Special Branch Report had been heeded. Second, vested interests, political and otherwise, have created such a mess in our cities that we become unduly vulnerable. As corruption rules the roost, the forces have to live with such things and also pay for the same like the people. Take any town and you would find damning encroachments which threaten even the roads. The latter are made most insecure by the unlawful parking of cars for many known reasons. Even Islamabad is plagued by the opening of schools and embassies in important residential areas. Initially, this was done to get chunks of the governments land in the specific sector. However, as greed and corruption knows no bounds, most of them are enjoying both the favours through bribes and contacts. The messy schools, like the Marriott Islamabad, offer such a target which could prove deadlier than the Karachi massacre on October 18, 2006 which the government appears to be ducking. Even the fire brigade and emergency vehicles get held up near such schools as a free-for-all order prevails among the offending motorists. This could be thanks to the ignorance, defiance of the law and the misuse of power with impunity. Tuesdays blasts in the Islamabad Islamic University should prove my point. Third, the faulty registration of vehicles is compounding the difficulties of the forces. In addition, quite a few vehicles keep plying without number plates. Even the number plates are decrepit. Unfortunately, the police, for some reason despite the dangers, tend to ignore, generally, such a risky bet. As all the rich and influential travel in luxury cars and wagons at the governments expense or otherwise, the police tend to shirk those riding such vehicles. Such a tendency is resented by the people and the police. Recently a local English daily carried a banner headline report whose opening sentence was: At a time when the law enforcement agencies are embroiled in a row with diplomats for carrying concealed weapons in the federal capital, the police in Karachi do not dare check armed guards who accompany so-called VIPs, it has emerged. The people are sick of no atta, no sugar, skimpy security and dire unemployment. A famous Pashto proverb advises those owning 'glass houses not to throw stones at others. While Musharraf undid the armys image, our public seems to agree with Oscar Wilde: Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people and for the people. The writer is a former secretary interior.