THE uneasy peace that had returned to Swat after the military operation was finally shattered yesterday with the suicide attack on a police training station, which killed, nay, martyred 15 policemen. This was but expected, if not at this particular spot, but somewhere, anywhere, in the target-rich environment that the militants have when it comes to government installations. The attack, which has spread panic amongst the already traumatised people of the area, will not, however, finish off the relative peace nor does it signal a return to the parallel government of the barbaric Taliban. There is no way to view the attack apart from analysing the history of this particular conflict. Amidst gruelling allegations by the people of the besieged valley that the armed forces seemed uninterested in fighting the militants, the secular political parties leading the provincial and federal governments thought it best to sign a peace agreement with the militants. The way the militants reneged on all the pledges in the said truce served as a watershed in turning general public opinion in the country against them. Backed by popular support this time, the ANP and the PPP again instructed the military to launch another operation. This operation, out of necessity for the reputation of the armed forces, had to be different. And different it was, but whether it was better still remains a question. In the opacity that surrounded the operation, with the media unable to go to the area and the only source of information being the ISPR, not much was clear, except it wasn't a standard infantry-heavy operation that has come to define modern counter-insurgency warfare but a klutzy, artillery (and even airpower)-heavy operation. Lack of objectively verifiable parameters made it difficult to decide whether the operation, which has caused huge collateral damage by all accounts except, perhaps, the military's, has been a success. The only correct parameter is the incidence of terrorist activity, which, as we saw yesterday, has not abated. Provincial information czar Mian Iftikhar Hussein has said that these incidents would have been even more intense and frequent had the administration not been on high alert, and that the way this particular incident was carried out was difficult to avoid. That is a chilling revelation; how would things have played out if it weren't for the high alert? Both the military and civil administration need to get their acts together.