The placement of Pakistan in the FATF grey list raised a lot of questions on the on-ground efforts of the government to curb extremism in the country, however, on an international platform it was pledged that satisfactory measures would be taken to counter the situation. The fact that the FATF inspectors are not satisfied with the measures of the Pakistani government prove that there is a lot more space to execute the policies drafted to counter terrorism in the country.

There is a significant amount of difference in the legislation and the implementation of the actions promised to the committee. There is no denying that the judicial system of Pakistan is already facing a backlog and since the entire last tenure was kept busy in judicial rounds, other efforts were sidelined and that has pushed the agenda way back on the priority list. The requirement at this time is strong legislation to ensure that any individual, group or organisation involved in the promotion of extremism should be dealt with immediately and must face severe punishment to set the precedent clear that no extremist activities are allowed in the country.

Where legislation plays its part, implementation is what lags behind. In the last year, we have witnessed a rise in the extremist narrative in the country. The entire country was witness to the Faizabad incident and also the rise in extremist parties wanting to contest the elections and also managing to grab significant votes to highlight their support base in the population. The checks and balances promised to ensure the absence of hate-speech are also not implemented effectively.

This problem will make or break Pakistan’s image in the international arena. It is a problem which must be dealt with immediately if countries are to acknowledge Pakistan’s efforts in the war on terror. A country which has lost over 70,000 people in this war must take the relevant steps to curb the growth of extremism. The most important aspect is terror financing. If all the institutions working categorically for the eradication of extremism are coordinated in a manner that makes data and information available promptly, then the next step is joining the efforts and making a communication pathway. Financial framework required in practices such as commodities trading, land trading, banking, and stock market regulations needs to be devised.

The young government must address the problem in order to improve Pakistan’s standing. Plenty of time has already been wasted in political oppositions and pressing issues are being neglected. The failure to do so will have severe consequences at a time when the country is already expecting another IMF bailout.