Militants are on the rampage. The attack on the Lahore ISI office this week was followed by a series of suicide strikes, explosions and gun-battles across the NWFP, killing a large number of people and causing shock to the nation already traumatized by the rising tide of terrorism. The sudden surge in terror hits makes it obvious that the militants are feeling the heat of the military operation under way in Malakand Division that had been virtually ruled by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan for long. That they would turn desperate was not hard to fathom. There is no denying the fact that the methods employed by the militant networks are unconventional and it becomes more difficult to prevent acts of terrorism when it comes to suicide bombings. But when there was a prior warning from the Interior Ministry about the possibility of attacks on sensitive installations, the Punjab government's excuse that it did not have any specific information hardly sounds credible. Three months ago when the provincial metropolis was rocked by acts of terrorism with the Police training academy in Manawan coming under attack on the heels of the aborted attempt at hijacking the Sri Lankan Team near Liberty it was blamed on the Governor's rule. The PML(N) leaders spouted venom against Mr Salman Taseer for abdicating the province to militants by dismantling an effective law-enforcement apparatus and engaging handpicked cops in coercing political opponents into changing loyalties. The media hacks were working overtime churning out slanders against the government of the time by accusing it of failure to act on advance warnings. But they deliberately avoided seeking explanations from the Punjab Home Department for its criminal negligence for not acting on the information it had received from the Special Branch about possible terrorist attacks in the provincial capital. The Home Secretary, who was retained under the Governor's rule, remained mysteriously mute about the whole issue. But those who indulged in intense finger-pointing and thought that Governor Taseer was the worst thing that had happened to Punjab need to do some soul searching about their own performance. Now that they are back into power the province is not any safer than it was three months ago. The situation has even worsened. Granted, blame for not preventing attack on the ISI office, that killed more people than the casualties caused by two terror strikes under the Governor rule, cannot be laid on the government. But it cannot avoid taking flak for its inability to improve the law and order situation, which has now fallen at its lowest ebb. The Punjab government will have to find a way out of its misdirected efforts at curbing crime if it does not want to be discredited for paying just lip service to the safety of the citizens. For that it has to give up the policy of posting police officers on the basis of their loyalty to the ruling leadership rather than on professional competence. Those accusing Ch Pervez Elahi of flouting merit in his five-year as the Punjab CM should not forget that he did not compromise on a broad-range of appointments in the police department. A case in point was his selection of Amir Zulfiqar as SSP Operations Lahore. Why can't the incumbent CM bring him back to this position and also find a better replacement for Pervez Rathore? An effective policing can provide a first line of defence against dangers to society. That is not to say that the Punjab government can afford to lose sight of the rampaging militancy. It has to be on its toes all the time especially when the foreign media is abuzz with reports that the militant groups operating in the Punjab are teaming up with the Taliban to carry out acts of terrorism across the province. The government has to focus on equipping the police force and the intelligence apparatus under its control with sophisticated weapons and other gadgets besides taking steps to ensure their better coordination with federal agencies. The argument that just because the Taliban could carry out an attack in Lahore in retaliation for the ongoing military operation weeks after it had been launched points to the difficulty they face in infiltrating into Punjab sounds misplaced. Seen against the backdrop of reports appearing in the foreign press indicating that diverse militant groups from across the country are uniting there is little reason for complacency. Those who are deeply indoctrinated and prepared to blow themselves up in crowds fear no danger. A senior police officer serving in South Punjab made an apt observation, saying, "the problem is there, and we are not concentrating". This is a wake-up call for those whose obsession with "good governance" keeps them blinded about the real threat.