One must question the effectiveness of the National Action Plan, when over 500 candidates backed by the banned outfits have made their way into Punjab’s local governance system. If out of the total 2000 seats, a quarter have the support of the banned organizations, it is indeed an alarming situation for the country that has worked very hard to rid the system of intolerant ideology.

The fact is that according to the present electoral law, the candidates have no criminal record and thus action cannot be taken against them.

The banned outfits through their undeclared candidates have established their strong footprints in Vehari, Lodhran, Chakwal, Faisalabad, Bhakkar and Bahawalnagar. To top it off they do have assured political presence in the remaining six districts too.

With each subsequent election, the flaws of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are highlighted. This time it is clear that the election authority has no system to check the background details of any candidate and simply verifies the candidates’ credentials through the information provided on the nomination papers. The ECP must be empowered to run background checks in cooperation with security agencies to assure the candidates viability for office.

There is a pressing need for determined efforts for de-radicalisation programmes as the military action needs supplementing steps to educate the general masses not to idealise and follow the extremist tendencies. Where the state fails to provide adequate facilities to the people, these extremist organization fill the gaps and provide the people with basic amenities and the people hence are grateful for that support. The government needs to step up its efforts to fill these gaps and work with the Ulema and scholars of the country to spread awareness against the radical ideologies that subsequently breed terrorism.