Pakistan, like most other nations, has many faces to show to the world. But, what makes it unique in today’s context is that everyone is looking at it, and they don’t like what they see. When one’s own house is out of order and it’s causing or even contributing to the unrest in the neighbourhood, outsiders find it justified to intervene. In a meeting on Sunday, the US and India agreed to boost co-operation to prevent the financing of violent extremist movements liked to Pakistan, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the affiliated Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Instead of facing further embarrassment yet again in front of the entire world, the state must revisit its policy regarding those who claim to be the ‘champions of the cause’ but in fact, are the biggest hurdle in the way of its success.

It’s time for some obvious truths. As the report alleges, the afore-mentioned organisations do operate “openly” in Pakistan. With Eid only a couple of days from now, their crowded and unabashedly loud donation camps can be easily spotted in several cities around the country. Their gracious presence is only possible with the consent of the state, and is evidence of its steady patronage which includes nurturing, maintaining and using these ‘strategic assets’ to achieve unintelligently defined objectives. While at one point in history, it may have made some sense to follow this policy, but changing times and circumstances have rendered this method obsolete and largely ineffective.

In an attempt to create suitable conditions for diplomatic solutions, the recent governments have cautiously avoided the Kashmir issue in public spheres, but that has played right into the hands of Messrs Hafiz Saeed and Co, who have come out with guns blazing to establish themselves as the only face of the struggle. It is extremely unfortunate that the common people, deeply and rightly sympathetic towards the plight of liberation of Kashmir, now equate loyalty to the cause with support to these organisations which promise much, but deliver nothing. News such as a joint US-India effort, will sadly serve as excellent publicity; the righteous freedom fighters against the oppressive India and the complicit US.

However, if we can make them, we can also break them. Not always though. The TTP is a living example of what can happen when homegrown strategic assets spiral out of control and present themselves as a much more immediate threat compared to the one they were developed to counter. It would be wise to disband them while there is still time. Only a naïve mind can believe that the all-in-one philanthropist, freedom-fighter and now political commentator, will relinquish such power voluntarily. It has to be the state itself which snatches it away, and more critically, takes total charge of all matters. Solve Kashmir, and the rest will sort itself out.