It is axiomatic that internal strength is a prerequisite to the ability of a country, howsoever militarily powerful, to counter an external threat to its sovereignty and integrity. For the military high command to acknowledge this reality and accord priority to the homegrown threats over any external challenge is, therefore, welcome. As the term ‘sub-conventional warfare’ connotes, the new doctrine is directed mainly at “institutions and individuals” within the country and across the western border that carry out suicide attacks and other acts of terrorism in Pakistan. We have far too long turned a blind eye to the criminal activities of the institutions and individuals, located within the country, allowing them to flourish and become bolder. This neglect has led to a spate of attacks in various parts of the country; one has become used to witnessing these merciless fanatics launching on our unwary, innocent citizens and resulting in chaotic scenes littered with body parts and ruined property. One critical lapse of our intelligence agencies has been not to think of bringing jihadist elements in the social mainstream of the country. And left to themselves, they proliferated into various militant organisations and easily took to al-Qaeda and other such outfits that conformed to their own aggressive philosophy. Now, with the support of these terrorist groups, they feel free and strong enough to carry out their agenda.

The problem, seemingly intractable, has to be addressed head-on with a well-thought-out strategy that one believes the armed forces must have worked out. We can only allude to the multi-layered dimensions that the issue of terrorism has assumed, gaining strength from different evolving factors. The challenge, therefore, cannot be met by just the army alone. The foremost input to militancy has been the growing extremist trend in society and that, in turn, has been bred on the economic and social pressures caused by the uncontrolled inflationary spiral and insecurity that has been an outgrowth of the absence of the writ of the state. The lack-of-writ factor has also meant the absence of accountability, unchecked greed and self-enrichment through corruption. With a no-holds-barred situation, the decline of moral and ethical values is inevitable. This scenario has been exploited to the hilt by the promoters of religiosity adding the dimensions of sectarian killings and militant enforcement of their particular interpretation of Islam.

The situation has been an invitation to the fanatics in Fata and areas within the borders and beyond, the TTP and other militant groups, to come forward and make the mess messier and they have contributed more to the mayhem that the local zealots. Drones keep the cauldron of hate and vengeance boiling. Without tackling all elements of the problem, it is hard to believe that militancy in the country could be rooted out.