The IED blast in Mohmand Agency targeted at a security force vehicle that injured two, is a reminder of the biggest issue that Pakistan currently faces. The current political deadlock has distracted the public from the ongoing war against militants in North Waziristan, but the continuation of attacks in other areas of the tribal belt tells us that even if Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan is successful, the war will be far from over. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, the Mohmand chapter of TTP is the most likely suspect. This is the same group that beheaded 23 FC personnel at the outset of the negotiation process in February to put on a display of their opposition to the idea, and the resolve to fight until the end.

This instance is but a reminder of the prevalence of militancy in Pakistan, and the need to tackle it from all fronts. The operation in North Waziristan, while reportedly effective, with 80 percent of the areas cleared according to the military, is just the tip of the iceberg. However, can we really trust this tally if no independent source exists to confirm it? The rumors that surfaced at the outset of the operation of a majority of the terrorists escaping long before the army started its advance, were always speculative, but enough to make us stop and think whether things really were as they were portrayed.

Additionally, the age old policy of attempting to distinguish between good and bad militants has failed us on more than one occasion. Clearing out one area and then waiting for militants to recuperate their strength and hit back with more hardened fighters will make Zarb-e-Azb redundant. This is not to say that prioritising one or more groups is a flawed strategic policy if under the explicit understanding that none will be allowed to survive in the long run. But past experience, and the leadership’s overall attitudes suggest that Zarb-e-Azb is only a strong message to the terrorists to not get out of hand. And if that is the case, sadly, Pakistan will continue to provide safe haven to militants, by actively supporting some, and looking the other way for others. This has already cost us far too much blood. In the background of a largely static political crisis, the IED’s and blasts continue steadily; grim reminders of what is really at stake if the state fails to act wisely.