It is beginning to look more and more like Pakistani PM Gilani might really have been made to promise a big clampdown against militants during his Washington visit not so long ago. Or somebody is making sure it looks that way. Competing theories could describe this as either the pressurised government in the acting phase of the acting/giving up cycle or as controlled chaos in the control phase of the control/unleash cycle. I'm thinking these cycles may even be paralelly existent and overlapping, while the renegades try to impede their effect by attacks such as the one in Wah, as well as capitalise on the side-effects (the unpopularity of this kind of policy).
A measure of how real this is: 260,000 refugees/internally displaced fleeing the fighting in Bajaur, and counting. These are UN figures which may or may not be inflated to a degree. Nevertheless the problem is serious. Meanwhile, not far from there, in Peshawar, where by the way some of the refugees had to have ended up, reports say a girls' school was blown up - all rooms destroyed, the computers, that the school had, destroyed as well. Hassan Abbas notes this as a first (incident of this kind there).
Over at his site there is another interesting source. Syed Saleem Shahzad promised trouble in Karachi, a couple of days ago NATO APCs were torched there, and now comes this report, with the telling title of Karachi in the eye of the storm.
"The re-emergence of two banned militant outfits in the city has posed a serious threat to the security situation amid growing fears of sectarian violence, Dawn has learnt.Background interviews with various police and intelligence officials revealed that militants of two banned outfits — Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) and Sipah-i-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP) — have returned to the city and are now busy in regrouping and expanding their network.(...)... the two outlawed organisations were planning attacks on important personalities of their rival sects, including certain politicians. “Basically, both the SMP and LJ are set to launch a proxy war against each other in Karachi to avenge whatever has been going on in Parachinar, Dera Ismail Khan or the tribal areas,” he observed."
I should insert a comment here regarding what has been going on in Parachinar and Dera Ismail Khan. Parachinar is in a predominanty Shiite part of the FATA, at the so-called Parrot's Beak. Taliban-backed Sunni militias fought Shiite militias there in the style some of the Lebanese civil war used to be fought back when it was on, with over 500 killed in a short while. Then in Dera Ismail Khan there was a suicide blast against a crowd of Shiites who gathered there after a wounded Shiite man was taken in by ambulance, having been stabbed at a shop.
So what could be awaiting Karachi is summed up by an intelligence source to Azfar-ul-Ashfaque in Dawn:
"“In order to divert the government’s attention, the terrorists may turn Karachi into a battlefield. We are alert to face such challenges,” said an intelligence official."
Syed Saleem Shahzad, for his part, is reassuring us now that the government, which, I shall add, recently took formally closer control of Inter-Services Intelligence, has really decided to erase radicals from their base areas, and that that is the reason why we see what's happening - in contrast to what former ISI chief Hamid Gul claimed would be the case, in an interview he gave to Shahzad himself.