ANOTHER deadly attack in Quetta; yet more policemen targeted and killed.
The sickening pattern of violence in Balochistan is too public and clear for state officials to simply try and foist blame on unnamed external actors.
That a senior police officer, this time a DIG and two other policemen, could be killed near his official residence in what ought to be a high-security zone in Quetta is an utter failure of the intelligence and security apparatus.
There is simply no excuse for why a suicide bomber can infiltrate the area, reach his target and detonate explosives without being identified and stopped.
Quetta and the wider province have suffered violence that has ebbed and flowed too many times for the usual explanations to be tolerated.
A murky security strategy in the province appears to have made accountability all but impossible.
Who is responsible for the consistent lapses and why is it that the only thing that appears horribly certain in Balochistan is that more attacks will occur?
The targeting of policemen is a particularly deadly terrorist tactic.
In Balochistan, where the state has been hollowed out by attacking officials over the years to discourage others from serving in the province, there is a desperate shortage of skills at all tiers of the private and public sectors.
The worse that shortage is made and the more others are deterred from serving in the region, the less Balochistan will be able to reverse its abysmal socioeconomic indicators.
And that will surely help consign Balochistan to many more years of deprivation and violence — a cycle that the security establishment appears to have no real answer to.
Without recognising that a militarised security strategy in Balochistan has failed to produce adequate results in a province that is beset by a range of security challenges, Balochistan cannot begin to find answers to a complex, layered security threat.
Perhaps now is the time for the civilian government or one of its partners to issue an urgent call for a fresh national dialogue on Balochistan.
Previous attempts have achieved little, but it remains the case that only a combined civilian and military strategy affords Balochistan a chance to escape from its otherwise seemingly endless misery.
The different challenges — sectarianism, external interference, domestic militancy, radicalisation of parts of the population and a low-level separatist insurgency — require different responses, but they all need a coherent state strategy.
At the moment, it is not clear what strategy the state has to respond to this latest wave of violence.
A fresh initiative by the civilian leadership could open the door to an intra-state dialogue and an understanding of how to tackle the different strands of militancy, terrorism and violence in Balochistan.
The lack of ideas and initiatives in Balochistan appears to be undermining security in the province; it is time for another path to be taken.