Senior law enforcement officials have identified a new militant network, an offshoot of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as the group responsible for Monday’s attack on Lahore’s Ferozepur Road. Very little is known about this so-called Taliban Special Group (TSG), which is reportedly comprised of highly trained suicide attackers (fidayeen commandos), or how the law enforcement agencies came to the conclusion that the attack was carried out by this particular group, but regardless of the specifics, the increased splintering of militant groups poses a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

With the evidence collected reaching the forensic labs, and an investigation on-going, right now the information on the new group is scant, and any assertion must be taken with a pinch of salt. However, we can be certain that splinter groups are becoming more and more brazen and we must have a combined strategy for dealing with them.

The exploits of Jammat-ul-Ahrar (JUA) have demonstrated the threat posed by these groups. Factions that break away from the established militant groups over ideological or policy disagreements are more motivated then their parent groups, and are more likely to carry out brazen attacks to separate and establish their own identity opposed to the parent. The TTP has been a constant menace in Pakistan and the architect of some of the most deadly attacks – including the APS Peshawar attack – but it is the JUA that has been the most active, carrying out numerous attacks against all manner of soft targets. Similarly, ISIS was formed out of the remnants of Middle Eastern militant groups, and went on to overshadow them all with its ferocity. If past precedent is anything to go by, the TSG may become a serious problem for the government in the near future.

The government must learn from its past precedents too – where it was too lethargic in responding to the JUA threat. In response to an agile and changing target the government continued to pursue a strategy of increasing security around venerable areas and carrying out full scale military operations in the border region instead of investing properly in counter-terrorism and urban solutions.

The government would do well to be proactive in this case. It should seek out and effectively destroy the support network of this new group before it becomes a bigger threat. Each splintering weakens the parent group, and if the government can tackle each new splinter as it emerges, soon the task of managing militancy will become a lot easier.