There are foreboding signs that the security threats in Pakistan are about to escalate for the worst. The Ministry of Interior has issued a nationwide alert asking for extreme vigilance, instructing that targeted search and strike missions be carried out wherever militant activity is reported.

This news is not surprising. They come at a time when the peace negotiations between Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the government of Pakistan appear to have come to a deadlock. If anything, our past experiences with negotiations with the TTP show that the banned outfit considers any breakdown or standstill in negotiations or catering to their demands must be accompanied by terrorist attacks or incidents of violence. Every time, the dialogue with the TTP seems to waver, we witness an outbreak of terrorist attacks in various parts of the country. This time, it appears that the areas of North and South Waziristan are particularly vulnerable, as reports indicate that groups of TTP militants are attempting to migrate to the area. It looks like TTP considers attacks fair game in an attempt to secure a better hand at the negotiating table.

TTP’s actions make it look like the group was never serious about the ceasefire. However, from their past conduct, the government and the authorities cannot assume that their threats are just part of their engagement in a hard bargain. If the TTP keeps threatening to resort to violence at every setback, the incentives for peace will slowly shrink. While an end to militancy is still a goal the government should pursue as long as it is plausible, the government must put the safety of its citizens above all priorities. All authorities must heighten security and exercise enhanced vigilance to avoid any untoward incident. We cannot afford to allow what has been happening in Swat the past year, with several attacks and incidents of terrorism, to occur again while TTP carries out its style of politics.