After almost two years of an ongoing extensive military operation in the country, the last thing any one wants to hear is that terrorists are regrouping and the self-styled Islamic State (IS) is emerging as a tangible threat in Pakistan. Yet that is exactly what the director general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Aftab Sultan, informed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Wednesday, stating that the presence of IS in the country is very real and several banned outfits, predominantly the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, coordinated with it.

Despite efforts made by the government last year to suppress emerging reports that IS had found presence in Pakistan, rumours remained afloat. On January 4 2016, Punjab Law minister, Rana Sanaullah confirmed that 42 suspected militants with alleged links to the militant Islamic State (IS) group, had been arrested from different cities in Punjab. And now our IB chief has confirmed the worst. So what does that mean for the future of the Zarb-e-Azb operation and our very slow progress - or rather regress - of the infamous National Action Plan? Is this the point where we start panicking? Or simply put our trust and our lives in the hands of the sitting government and the militia and hope for the best?

When Supreme Court judge Jawad S Khawaja last year, remarked that the National Action Plan was nothing more than a joke, perhaps that was not too far from the truth. The interior ministry had vehemently defended the NAP quoting figures that showed terrorism incidents had decreased across the country, and that security forces have carried out 54,376 combing operations so far under the NAP and as a results of these 60,420 arrests were made. So what next? Will these arrests arrive to a logical conclusion? Will these cases be tried in court? And if so, which courts?

The ambiguity that surrounds the NAP and the actions carried out under its banner must be cleared out. The real purpose of the NAP was to ensure enhanced regional cooperation, implementation of a de-radicalisation policy with a focus on counter-narrative. It was supposed to support the Zarb-e-Azb operation, which is doing its part by eliminating the imminent threat. Which means that the burden of ensuring that the terrorists do not regroup and come back stronger lies on the government. Broader regional cooperation and a border control mechanism with Afghanistan and cracking down on terror financing must be the top priority in the present, very grim circumstances.