The suicide attack on Bedian road Lahore on Wednesday led to the deaths of six – four security officials and two census workers – and injured 19. The government has confirmed that the census team was the intended target of the bomber, which tells us that deploying security with all the teams carrying out the national headcount was a necessity.

While no group has taken responsibility of this attack as of yet, many terrorist factions in the country have turned their attention towards security forces and government institutions and officials, and a census team out in the open is one of the most obvious vulnerable targets. Attacking a census team at a crucial time like this is not good for morale, and it is positive that both the government and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) have stated that the census will be completed at all costs.

The problem with preventing a suicide attack, as pointed out by Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, is that security forces cannot act unless they know exactly who the bomber is and when and where they will strike. A threat alert – which in the case of Lahore on this occasion, the government received twice – can only minimise the damage, not prevent it altogether.

With reports of Raddul Fassad picking up pace in Punjab, terrorist attacks in the province should be reducing, but this is not the case. The strategy behind the operation is simple; find any and all terrorist cells, weapons caches, facilitators and financiers, but is this really enough? Sectarian and extremist mindests are still entrenched in many parts of the province and the country. Movement across provinces is still not as controlled as it should be. And for every bomb or gun that the state confiscates, more are available in the black market. The security forces are carrying out combing operations, but this strategy is nowhere near foolproof.

The government needs to make more of an effort to proliferate the officially sanctioned narrative of standing against any and all forms of extremism and terrorism in the country. Nabbing individual terrorists cannot guarantee that the security situation in Pakistan improves permanently. This is a battle of ideologies, and the state is not doing enough to ensure that the one it is propagating gains more popularity over the terrorists’ extremist narrative. Unless this happens, we could be looking at a lot more attacks of this nature.