PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Three weeks after Pakistan's main political parties backed the idea of talks with the country's Taliban militants, the plan looks in deep trouble, hit hard by a wave of bloody attacks.
In the space of a week, the northwestern city of Peshawar has suffered three major bombings, killing 142 people - the vast majority of them civilians.
Hurried denials issued by the main umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group hint at divisions within the organisation and the rise of splinter factions keen to pursue their own agenda rather than follow the central leadership.
Peshawar is no stranger to bloodshed. It lies on the edge of Pakistan's tribal areas and has frequently been hit by bombings and shootings.
But the brutality of the recent attacks: a suicide bombing on a church service, a bomb on a bus carrying government staff home after work and the latest, a powerful car bomb targeting a busy market on Sunday, has shocked locals.
"The government should publicly hang the killers of innocent people," Gul Mohammad, a Peshawar junk shop owner, told AFP.
"I have a very simple question: why is the government so reluctant to launch an army operation against the Taliban?"
The TTP insists it targets only legitimate military assets in its fight against the Pakistani state and says the recent attacks are a conspiracy to scotch the proposed talks.