The voices criticising the military operations against terror the loudest come from some religious parties in Pakistan, who have come out saying things even the least patriotic Pakistani would think twice before suggesting.

At the meeting of the supreme council of Milli Yekjehti Council (MYC) on Thursday, Abdullah Gul, son of late General Hamid Gul, said the army had lost the strategic operation against extremists. The council argued the army had failed to put forth a counter-narrative effectively.

But is it the army’s job to create this counter narrative? Should the political leadership, including the parties constituting the MYC, not share the burden of coming up with a good counter-narrative? The security operations can kill thousands of terrorists, but unless their moral and monetary support from civilian channels is not plugged, they will continue to grow and multiply.

Gul along with many others, including Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq, blamed the military rule under Pervez Musharraf for the current wave of terrorism. Majils-i-Wahdat Muslimeen chief Allama Nasir Abbas criticised the ‘jehad policy’ as the root cause of the unrest, as if there had been no development in military strategy since 1989.  They ended with demanding the release end the detention of Hafiz Saeed and take action against those committing blasphemy.

Is this the solution - to defy the state in its actions and complain about fake or anonymous online accounts that have no real effect on national security? After the February attacks in Lahore and Sehwan Sharif, when the army claimed to have killed 100 terrorists in a crackdown, the MYC protested that the crackdown was unlawful. The Shuhada Foundation, the NGO associated with the Lal Masjid chimed in, parroting the same.

These protesting parties are a very small cross-section of the political spectrum. All major political parties – ones that can boast of a nationwide following – have tacitly supported the army and the government. We must make sure that these parties and organisations that go up against the military, or try to distract the population with blasphemy accusations and obsessions, fight a lonely battle against rule of law and the writ of the state. The MYC’s previous protests – for causes such as repealing the Women Protection Bill and opposing un-Islamic changes in the syllabus – also petered out without any significant disruption.

Islam is not under threat in Pakistan, and will never be. Religion is a priority for 90 percent of the Pakistani people. It is a myth that we are losing this unifying force, and a myth that we need religious parties front-and-centre to protect religious values. People are smart and conscientious enough to lead their lives in piety, and if they don’t, it is a personal choice protected by the constitution, as well as by Islam. What is under threat is human life. Religious paranoia, mob reactions against blasphemy allegations, and undue criticism of our military operations is not helping us save more lives.