Zarb-e-Azb operations may have damaged TTP’s ability to plan and carry out mass killings, but even Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel has said that terrorism cannot be defeated by armed forces alone. Defeating terrorism requires not only eliminating their ability to carry out attacks, but eliminating the extremist mindset behind such attacks. This was supposed to be addressed by the National Action Plan, but once again we are faced with strong words followed by no actions and the results are showing.
In Islamabad, billboards featuring women models are being defaced, a kind of vandalism that is frighteningly familiar.
Nobody saw who did it but thoughts went back to religious activists, mainly seminary students, who did the same during the Lal Masjid-inspired heady ‘islah’ (reform) campaign in the federal capital eight years ago.
Despite promises of a strong response to counter the extremist narrative, government and military agencies have done nothing to stem the rising tide of extremism in the country. Political parties are the focus of security operations, while Lal Masjid and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and ASWJ are given a clean chit and allowed to continue their activities. Worse, by failing to act, the state has emboldened these groups by demonstrating that its lacks the will to actually make good on its promises and shut down the extremist activities.
Quoting statistics about decline in terrorist attacks might make us feel better, but we are only fooling ourselves. Unless we are willing to finally take on the problem of extremism, we are only buying time until the next attack.