BEFORE evaluating the new strategy of counter terrorism, one has to ask about the need of a new policy. The obvious answer would be that we need a new policy because the old one seems to be letting us down. That would be a correct assumption if we were to look at the events of the recent past. But would it be enough to warrant a newer strategy to begin with? Is that really where the problem lies? Any improvement in the way the civilian government and the civilian security agencies handle the situation would, of course, be welcome but as far as the complete overhaul is concerned, we should be sure if we really are changing what needs to be changed the most. This is, and should be, the most important question to be asked, whether it is in the media or in government meetings, like the one chaired by the Prime Minister on Monday, which was attended by the four Chief Ministers, the AJK PM, the Defence and Interior Ministers and others. All other changes would be Sisyphean, if not cosmetic. Coming back to the proposed strategy itself, the meeting decided that the parliamentary committee on national security would assess the security threats to the country and come up with a draft national security policy soon. In addition to this, ulema and madrassahs would be brought into the mainstream in a larger effort to de-radicalize the public. The newer strategy also aims at building the capacity of law enforcement agencies. In addition to all this, is the plan to set up a new force to tackle terrorism. According to news reports, this 100,000-strong force will have 20,000 personnel each for the four provinces and the federal capital, which is puzzling, since the federating units have very different levels of security concerns. The NWFP, for obvious reasons, would have needed more than, say, Islamabad. But the overall public policy is a cause for concern. When officials say that this new force is going to be better compensated than the regular police on the motorway police model, this is going to cause the same resentment in the police, who, regardless of which way you slice the problem, would have to do the main grunt work against terrorism and lawlessness in general. The creation of a separate force is not going to change the fact that ordinary policemen's lives will still be at the greatest risk. The decision by the second Nawaz Sharif government to pay the NH&MP more than the regular police was incorrect and spoke of misplaced priorities. This is not going to be much different. The effect of this new force needs to be thought out more carefully, specially in terms of the governmental fiscal space it is going to leave the conventional police.