Shahbaz Sharif’s approval of Rs. 240 million to set up a de-radicalisation centre in Punjab is a good measure in principle, for the only real way to end militancy in the country is to decrease its hold on the minds of its proponents. This is easier said than done however, because of the political and religious convictions that go with devotion to the “cause.” The state must also realise that while a correctional facility might work on young impressionable militants, it is unlikely to have an effect on hardcore militants that have spent their lives fighting for their cause. Nor does de-radicalisation account for entire tribes that see militancy as the only way of life, and the droves of foreign fighters that support them. How does one de-radicalise and reintegrate a group that stand against everything the state stands for? And how will the state ensure that those that are de-radicalised will not revert?

The correctional facility will be based on the model of the Mishal School in Swat, a project initiated by the army in 2009 to reintegrate captured militants into society. The two-tiered approach to de-radicalise around sixty of the subjects was based on psychological sessions, with instilling nationalistic pride as a cornerstone of the program, and vocational training to make them productive citizens of the state. Was the three month program really enough to rehabilitate people the state labelled terrorists not too long ago? Did the state keep an eye on its ‘graduates’ to ensure that they did not take up arms against the state once more? Is patriotism even an effective counter narrative against religious indoctrination? With regards to vocational training, the only problem is that it works under the assumption that all militants come from impoverished families and took up arms as their last option.

The government needs to realise that the larger problem remains ignored. A recent survey by an American research group revealed that over 60 percent of Pakistan’s population is against the Taliban, but in reality, this figure glosses over a number of issues. Our society’s silence on instances of sectarian violence, making heroes out of murderers like Mumtaz Qadri, and allowing the militant perspective to pervade into our political discourse exposes vast gaps in our collective national character; opening a few correctional facilities will not be sufficient to de-radicalise society and integrate former militants as productive citizens of the country. The problem must be nipped in the bud and the solution- in the long run- can only be preventative if it is to last.