At Penpoint As the saying goes, it never rains but it pours. The echoes of the loud blast in Model Town had hardly died away when there were a series of blasts in the Cantonment (R A Bazaar), and Iqbal Town and Samanabad, which rounded off a week of horror for Lahore. Though Lahore had previously seen terrorist attacks, this reflected a double shift in the militants plan of action. First, there seems to have been a change of physical location, from the NWFP to the Punjab, and then there seems to be a shift in target from ordinary citizens to the state. However, the shift towards the state is far from complete, as the Iqbal Town blasts seemed to show. The underlying assumption is that terrorism is a form of warfare and as carefully targeted as conventional warfare, but its nature dictates that it appears much more random. However, its perpetrators will have prepared as carefully, and will have as precise targets as those who carry out the conventional warfare that is being blamed for these attacks. Though the shift in location may have been dictated by the success of the army operation in the tribal areas, it might be an indication that the militants are moving towards the South Punjab. There have been two significant developments flowing from the blasts. First, there has been a reaction to the Punjab chief minister apparently seeking a truce with the militants. Second, there have been recoveries of explosives by the police. These should be correlated with the apparent move towards South Punjab that will take place (or has already taken place) from the tribal areas. First, the Punjab CM is aware of the possibility, and that this will mean the focus of the conflict will shift to the Punjab. Such awareness is an argument against such a shift. Second, the recoveries indicate that there has already been shifting of material southwards, or at the very least, of contacts being established with groups active in the whole of the Punjab, not just its South. That incidentally fits the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, which has already joined Al-Qaeda, and which has been operating in the Punjab. However, when the headquarters move to the South, then the Lashkar, which so far has enjoyed great autonomy, will find out what greater subordination means. The Iqbal Town attacks were different even from the previous attack on Iqbal Town in that the target was not killing, or establishing terror, but spreading of terror. Both militant actions, as well as public reactions, were predicated on the basis of militant actions having the ability to kill. As a result, the people of Iqbal Town were forced indoors to await the next blast. The blast in Samanabad appeared part of this series, because Sama-nabad lies next to Iqbal Town, and would lie on many possible escape routes. To that extent, the blast was probably a contingency rather than a main target, based on the bomber having a bomb when he escaped. A major change in modus operandi was also to be noted in the Iqbal Town blasts, that the attacker or attackers escaped. It was thus not a suicide blast, as had been carried out earlier that day at R A Bazaar. This means that experience can be gained not just in bomb making, but also in bomb delivery. It also reflects a change in mentality, for the bombers are not interested in gaining Heaven by martyrdom, but by winning. Desire to achieve martyrdom had meant that much of the protection based on the assumption that the perpetrator would escape was rendered useless. That has been retained and even enhanced, because that is what the police do best. It also means that recruits will be easier to find, now that the achievement of martyrdom has been reduced from a certainty to be anxiously desired to a risk against which precautions are to be taken. One consequence of a move to South Punjab will be the shifting of US drone attacks. However, the effects of a shift from one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to one of the heartland provinces cannot be calculated. Presumably, this would be resisted even more strongly than previous attacks, but since they did not succeed then, there is no reason to assume that they would succeed now. However, they would force Al-Qaeda to look for refugees even further away, possibly in Sindh, where there are a number of the ulema whom Al-Qaeda has so far found sympathetic. So far, the drone attacks have been winked at by the government because no important constituency, or neighbour, has been targeted. But South Punjab would be a headache for the USA because this is the area from which both the prime minister and the foreign minister have been elected. Even if their home district, or their constituencies, were exempted from drone attacks, such an exemption could not be extended to neighbouring districts or constituencies. Also, militants would move to exempt areas, and such a policy could land the prime minister and foreign minister out of the frying pan of drone attacks into the frying pan of a militant pres-ence in their constituencies, or at least in their home district. Though Jhang is naturally more famous as a centre of sectarian activity, the tehsil town of Kabirwala is also a centre of sectarian activity, where the Lashkar has also derived strength. Though Kabirwala is outside the constituencies of both prime minister and foreign minister, it has an important influence on both, and if it was to become the target of drone attacks, here would be two very senior elected officials adversely affected. While the USA would shrug this off as an inevitable cost of its 'war on terror, the concerned officials would not find it easy to go on supporting it. It could also lead to the PPP losing the seats it won at the last election in the South Punjab. It is these seats which make the difference between winning and losing for the party, therefore the PPP can ill afford any action sacrificing them. Whatever the situation, the Punjab has seen its IGP warn of further attacks. This would be part of the process of moving out of the tribal areas. Combating the terrorism that would follow would involve clever policing, as well as the policing methods recently shown in Bhowana. It will also involve massive collateral damage, much more massive than seen so far, as the 'war on terror moves out of Pakistans mountainous tribal areas into its crowded cities. This is damage that the USA would find acceptable, and would not find understandable why the government would object. This damage would be the best guarantee of the USAs backing of a party that was already losing in those areas. However, the impond-erables would be how the USA would accommodate India in this, for accommodate it, it must, and how the Pakistani people might respond to all this. American moves would suffer from the defect of being increasingly self-revelatory, making it difficult to yield the desired results from succeeding elections. The government should abandon self-defeating policies, and accept the wishes of the people. If it cannot lead, then it should follow. That, after all, is the lesson of the democracy it espouses. E-mail: