The successful transition of power from one elected government to another elected government after the 2013 elections is a marvellous victory clinched by Pakistan. It is a unified and unyielding response of people to terrorists, who detest democracy and the nation’s constitution. Needless to say, the militants have been very vocal about their anti-democratic stance and went all out to disrupt the election process. They targeted election campaigns and corner meetings, killing at least 60 candidates and workers belonging to different political parties. They made the cunning manoeuvre to attack the rallies and leaders of PPP, ANP and MQM, but chose to extend dialogue offer to PML-N, JUI-F and PTI. It was a deception aimed at creating a divisive wedge between the mainstream national parties. Ostensibly, they remained successful, though partially, in their move.PML-N chief Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif had accepted to be the guarantor of talks with the terrorists in order to bring peace in the country. PTI chairman Imran Khan too has been advocating talks with them all along. But now when Nawaz has been elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Imran’s PTI has formed the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the house of Pakistani Taliban, there is hardly any letup in the terrorist activities of Pakistani Taliban. Rather, they have stepped up suicide attacks in Peshawar and Quetta. For instance, two MPAs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, belonging to PTI, have been killed in suicide attack in Peshawar. The regional terrorists burnt down Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s residence in Ziarat. Then the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has killed more than 60 people in Quetta within two weeks.After the latest attack on the Hazaras in Quetta, the Prime Minister dashed to the place, along with the IB and ISI chiefs, to personally monitor the situation. It seems that his patience with the terrorists, with whom he had cheerfully agreed to talk, has petered out. Successive horrible incidents of terrorism have compelled him to shelve the priority of talks and resort to decisive action against them. But as he is faced with multi-headed hydra of TTP, regional terrorists in Balochistan and gangs of murderers in Karachi, prudence demands to organise his forces and then unleash them for a sustained battle with these elements.Till very recently, there has been utter confusion in the government and the masses about the real identity and motives of various militant groups. The TTP - the offspring of al-Qaeda - despite being an existential threat to Pakistan, and a scare to the Western world, remained faceless. Now the media and government have started recognising them and, that too, due to their own daredevil claims of terrorist attacks.It is unbelievable but true that Pakistan has been fighting against the terrorists without a national counter-terrorism strategy. The agencies were rudderless in the absence of a clear mandate and policy. Political will is, indeed, imperative to pick up the gauntlet against the insurgents and terrorists, which, unfortunately, was not visibly demonstrated by the previous government. The new democratically-elected government, however, has emitted sincere vibes of seriousness to deal with the terrorists. But as problems come in battalions, at this crucial time a new challenge is staring in their face; Afghanistan sans Americans after 2014. It is going to be a complex situation. The fact is that terrorism in Pakistan had emanated from its tribal areas, which have border with Afghanistan. Initially, the spillover of violence had entered into Pakistan through Waziristan from Afghanistan, when the holy war (jihad) was waged against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The second spillover entered from the same route and inundated Pakistan after the US operations against the Taliban.The question is: what will happen in Afghanistan after 2014; a civil war or a stable coalition government? Anyone aware of the Afghan history does not have to trouble his mind much, as the scenario is quite predictable. Afghanistan has no history of stability on a central government. It was only during the Taliban regime that there was a sort of central government. But it might not be repeated because the times were different in 1995-96. The people of Afghanistan were fed up of mujahideen infighting, which had made their lives miserable. The Taliban were welcomed, as they were successful in restoring peace and maintaining law and order. But now the tussle would ensue between Karzai and Taliban. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is already averse to any kind of idea of power sharing with the Taliban. It means more trouble in Afghanistan. Subsequently, difficulties for Pakistan will continue. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s worry is that the TTP would be further emboldened. The TTP has tasted power and is imbued with the desire to extend its writ across Pakistan. It might not lay down arms very conveniently. The 2,500-mile long and porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan will become their strength. If the US abandons the area, al-Qaeda will regain strength in the tribal areas. Pakistan is already cash starved and its economy is in shambles. It will be difficult to tackle the resurgence of TTP insurgency without USA and international help More so, the Afghan Taliban might not be able to restrain the TTP. It is misleading to believe the reports that they attacked the Maulvi Fazlullah led TTP in Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan out of any sort of sympathy for Pakistan. It was more of a tussle over the timber and narcotics business. It seems that the rest of 2013 will be more volatile, as different groups, even those like the Haqqani Network, would try to gain weight and importance before the foreign troops leave Afghanistan, so that they could be in a better position to negotiate and bargain for their share in power. As a final word, the security situation in Pakistan is closely linked to the conditions prevailing in Afghanistan. However, Pakistan should control its temptation to go overboard to get involved too deeply in the process of formulation of future government of Afghanistan. Let the Afghans decide their own fate and run their affairs as they want to. Pakistan’s priority must be to focus on bridling its homegrown terrorists in order to ensure sustainability of its hard-earned democracy and to achieve stability in the country and in the region. 

The writer is an honorary director of the Centre for Peace and Security Studies, University of the Punjab, and holds Master’s degree in Intelligence and International Security from War Studies Department, King’s College London.