Yesterday’s suicide bombing attack in Lahore at the entrance of the Data Darbar shrine that led to the death of nine (five police officers, three civilians and a suspected attacker) and injured another 25 was yet another reminder that even Pakistan’s “secure” urban centres are not altogether safe from attacks by militants given the slightest security or intelligence lapse.

This is not to state that the blame lies on our security agencies; far from it, since attempting to stop all attacks is next to impossible in a country still battling with radical thought on a daily basis. However, an attack in one of the busiest parts of Lahore at a location which has been targeted before implies that there is room for more vigilance to prevent such tragedies from repeating themselves.

The responsibility for the attack was claimed by Hizb-ul-Ahrar – a splinter group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – which clarified that the police officers were specifically targeted given that it was timed to make sure that there were no civilians around the police car when the bomb exploded. This brutal assault on the brave men and women of the security agencies must be countered through greater control on the proliferation of weapons and explosives, a tighter clampdown on terrorist financiers and most importantly, countering the radical mindset that brainwashes the bombers into carrying out these heinous crimes.

The prime suspect of the attack – a fifteen-year-old boy – tells us of the imperative need to ensure that the youth is kept away from radical thought and the clutches of militants looking to use them through education, improved economic opportunities and extending the writ of the state throughout the country. Just hours after the attack, social media websites such as twitter had numerous accounts supporting Khadim Rizvi’s Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) making preposterous claims about the blast being a means to distract the public from the news that Asia Bibi had left Pakistan. The way these numerous tweets were virtually identical to one another tells us of a systematic attempt to hijack the narrative and bring about a more extremist mindset within society.

There can be no distinction today between those that advocate violence by using Islam as a political tool and those that carry it out through suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism. They are two sides of the same coin. This extremist ideology is the biggest issue right now, and unless the practice of propagating violence by manipulating religious teachings is not ripped out root and stem, we are likely to see more Pakistani citizens die at the hands of militants over and over again.