What Indians had started saying within hours of the Pathankot attackers fired first shot, is now visible to most. When Prime Minister Sharif assured his Indian counterpart of his government’s cooperation on the ‘actionable intelligence’ shared by India, he actually conceded the fact that Pakistan’s land was indeed used by the ‘enemies of peace’. No denial was seen from Pakistan’s parallel government either. No tweet, no Press release tried to contradict the Indian claims. So, we know it was from amongst us, if not us.

With a clear link of the Pathankot attackers to the Pakistani soil and subsequent anger at home about it, absence of some guarantees on our part would make things very difficult for Modi government that has taken a big risk domestically by aligning itself along the peace process, after taking firm posture on cross-border terrorism.

On Monday, the Indian media was taken by surprise when a Hindu language daily Dainik Bhaskar published an interview of Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor, in which he was quoted as saying, “Till the time Pakistan takes action against perpetrators of the Pathankot airbase terror attack and India is satisfied with that action, we will not hold any peace talks. In consequent to this, the January 15 Foreign Secretary-level talks due to be held in Lahore have also been cancelled. Now, no talks will happen before action (against terrorists).”

Immediately after TV channels picked this cancellation-of-talks announcement, Doval issued a denial. “I speak to journalists every day.

But I do not remember giving any such interview. I strongly deny that I made such a statement”, ANI quoted him as saying. Latter that morning he said, he had only asserted that the dates for the talks had not been fixed yet, but will take place when Pakistan takes some action. Earlier, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry told media that India had shared evidence with them and they are working on the leads provided by the Indian government.

This necessitates us having a plan. Do we have one? We should have known this was coming. While Indian government has fulfilled its part by following sensible behaviour and not accusing Pakistan out rightly, here comes our turn. A sensible behaviour from our side would constitute some very simple things. Examine the ‘actionable intelligence’ provided to us, brief Indian counterparts wherever it lacks if it does. If it is an actionable intelligence in the real sense of the word, hurry acting on it without resorting to our usual cosmetic measures or using our media proxies to manipulate the narrative.

When it is done, it should be visible as done. Lets build us as trustworthy and sincere partners against terrorism wherever it is committed.

If we don’t do that, we can’t blame our archenemies if they frame us as a terror-supporting mad nation and a failed rogue state having no writ of itself on its own land. Once we do it, we are going to have a moral higher ground and a stronger image as a country averse to militancy and a serious seeker of a progressive, prosperous and peaceful region with a leading role in it.

Calling a spade a spade is the best thing that we can do to ourselves at this moment. Let’s begin by acknowledging that we are facing this because we made wrong policy choices. We must know that the world laughs when we tell we are worst hit nation by terrorism and that our people have given biggest sacrifices in war on terror. It’s because our people never sacrificed their loved ones for any such war.

They were pushed into a hell that we very proudly built around them thinking it would only burn others. We saw our Frankensteins killing our people for good part of two decades at the very least but resisted touching the monsters.

It wasn’t long ago when we were passionately supporting propaganda against any bid intended to target these monsters. Whether it were drone strikes or a comprehensive operation in Waziristans or checking militancy in Punjab. Till June of 2014, we were confusing our nation with a highly perplexing narrative, which included mixed messages like: Taliban are our own brothers, at the same time they are working for India to kill us; those killing us cannot be Muslims; Afghan Taliban are legitimate claimants of Afghanistan and are fighting a just war of freedom; everyone calling for all out action against them is enemy of Muslims and of Pakistan. So much so that through the use of media proxies, we made our people sympathetic to the very militants who were inflicting bloodshed on them and rendered anyone demanding action against militants, as traitor and foreign agent. Those media proxies are still there. As active as ever.

It is high time now that we recognize all these follies and start doing some introspection. That the number of terrorist attacks has gone down is an artificial and shallow measure of peace and of ‘course correction’ if there’s any. We did not implement National Action Plan across the board is the reason why the state is not being allowed by its own (former?) assets to pursue its foreign policy agenda. This has made our country a target of international ridicule and humiliation.

Not for once one is suggesting here to correct the course for the sake of winning some brownie points in the eyes of international community. It should be us – our people and our own peaceful existence – that must be most important for the state of Pakistan. The existence – and worst, the patronage – of groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad (or Khuddam-e-Islam or Tahreek-ul-Furqan) or Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) is a measure of our seriousness on what our leadership claims – all out action against all kinds of militants without any distinction of good or bad ones. An assertion made by umpteen times by the Prime Minister and the COAS recently.

How can we do it when not only that these groups are allowed to move freely on our land, they are able to propagate their ideology, which is based on the hatred and disdain for the ‘other’.

Masood Azhar of JeM still lives in his sprawling mansion in Bahawalpur equipped with modern amenities and training facilities. So does Hafiz Saeed in Muridke and Lahore. The way they and their ilk are able to sicken the mind of our youth is no secret.

Open YouTube (which stands banned because our daft religious elite thought it as a pertinent response to blasphemic content uploaded on it), you’d easily access fiery sermons by Masood Azhar types, preparing a human capital of brain dead quasi-literate, uneducated Pakistanis. They widely use the concepts like pan-Islamism, which prepare them to compromise their national identity in favour of their religious identity. Acceptable?

This human capital is later used to make more and more Hafiz Saeeds, Fazlur Rehman Khalils, Rauf Asghars, etc. They might, at first sound like Maulvi Tariq Jamils etc., but they’d eventually turn into Mulla Aziz or Malik Ishaqs or finally, Iliyas Kashmiris and Mulla Fazlullahs. This is all connected. More strongly than we think.

If we don’t want to check this, where exactly is the need to indulge in the drama of dialogue? Do we mean it?