The Adviser on Foreign Affairs warned on Friday that pushing too fast against all militants in the country could lead to “blowback” in the form of more terrorist attacks. However, to claim that we have at all been on the cusp of “moving too fast” against terrorists in our country is preposterous.

Sartaj Aziz sought to deflect criticism that Pakistan has not done enough to crack down on the Haqqani network and that it still shelters Afghan Taliban leaders, highlighted by the US drone strike that killed Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in May. Though we want to support the assertion, that we have done what we could, the international criticism has a smidgen of truth. The drone strike that killed Mansour was embarrassing, whether we would like to admit it or not.

Aziz said he would defend Pakistan’s record of fighting militants when meeting this weekend with a US congressional delegation headed by Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee. This meeting will be a watershed moment. This is the opportunity to convince the US to put the last year of shaky diplomacy behind and end our isolation. But can we? Our adviser on foreign affairs seems to be making up diplomacy ad hoc. The statements by Aziz and the Foreign Office are reactionary against India and the US, and betray no strategy.

In the case of Pakistan being afraid of blowback, the Adviser has unwittingly admitted that we can “do more” but are afraid, giving US pundits reasons to complain and signalling to terrorist organisations that any counter-terrorism policy will not be harsh. He said, “We have to make sure that we move in a decisive way, but at a measured pace and according to our capacity, and ensuring that the blowback is manageable.” This goes against all that was said after the APS massacre, that we would leave no stone unturned. This is a diplomatic fiasco. The enemy knows we have no plan, we are scared, we do not have enough resources, and they will be tolerated so long as their threats are credible.

This not what was promised in the National Action Plan. The problem with counter-terrorism is that there will always be a blowback and without counter-terrorism the status quo will remain. In this catch-22, Aziz has chosen to stand on the latter position, but it is untenable if we have to get rid of the hundreds of militant organisations. Action has to be so harsh and so swift that we break their capacity to launch a “blowback”. And even if we do not have the capacity yet, let’s not spell it out like the Adviser has, putting us in a weak spot in the coming negotiations with the US.