DEFENCE Minister Ahmad Mukhtar's statement that the government has banned the Jamaat-ud-Dawah to save Pakistan from being declared a terrorist state could indicate to many that the action was taken under duress and those who took it were not convinced of its rightness. It is time the government abandoned its apologetic attitude in favour of a proactive and principled approach. That Pakistan is itself a target of terrorism is now a well-established fact. Terrorist groups have killed hundreds of innocent people in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and numerous other cities. On Friday, the house of a ruling alliance MNA was attacked and a girl's school torched in Swat. Terrorist acts of the sort have given birth to widespread concern and uncertainty, and raised questions about the ability of government agencies to establish the writ of the state. All sorts of anti-state elements, including misguided people, drug pushers and criminals, with unlimited funds and sophisticated weapons at their disposal, have taken on the law enforcement agencies to fulfill their nefarious agenda. What is needed is a determination to root out all terrorist outfits whether they operate inside or outside the country. This must be done voluntarily, without outside bidding. The action should be taken however on the basis of evidence gathered by our own agencies. Evidence provided by other governments too should be sifted by the country's relevant institutions, and a thorough and transparent investigation conducted, before any move is made. That this was not done before banning the Jamaat-ud-Dawah has rightly been criticized. The ruling alliance must take other political parties, specially the PML(N), on board. The stand taken by Mian Nawaz Sharif as well as the outcome of the APC called by CM Shahbaz Sharif in Punjab indicates that all responsible parties and leaders would support the government in case the facts are put before them. It is being widely recognized that the government and the Army have a similar approach towards terrorism. Nothing should be done that creates a different perception. While the government takes a clear-cut stand against terrorism, it has to reiterate that Kashmir is a core issue and key to peace in South Asia, including Afghanistan. Pakistan must pledge full political and moral support to the struggle for Kashmir's freedom. It must demand resolution of the issue through a UN referendum. The matter should be taken up at all international forums. As the action against the Jamaat was taken in indecent haste, scores of schools and dispensaries opened by this charitable organisation, have been suddenly sealed. The government has to provide for the boarding, lodging and education of the affected students. It should also make alternative arrangements to run the dispensaries.