The government has assured the Indian government that no stone will be left unturned, if any evidence was found that Pakistani individuals were involved in the Pathankot attack. One of these measures has been shutting down several religious schools run by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the group that has taken responsibility for the attack. With relations between India and Pakistan volatile at the moment, one wonders if this crackdown is a strategy to appease India, or a genuine effort to curb terrorism in Pakistan and carry the policy of shutting dangerous seminaries to its logical conclusion.

Officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) raided seminaries and arrested more than a dozen people, including its leader, Maulana Masood Azhar, a hardliner and termed as a ‘long-time foe of India’ by the media. They also confiscated documents and literature on the premises. It is good that they are taking this threat seriously, but should we not ask why we only took action when India brought their militancy to light? JeM has never been silent about its intentions and has a history of violence. How many deaths could have been prevented if we had preempted these murderers? JeM militants are blamed for a 2001 attack on India’s parliament that nearly led to a war between the nuclear-armed rivals. The January 2 attack on the base in Pathankot was followed by a raid on an Indian consulate in Afghanistan that has also been linked to JeM.

Most religious outfits run their own madrassas, justified on the premise that they are doing a service to their community and engaging in charity work. Yet the same organisations have military wings and an agenda against the state. They cannot have it both ways. No religious party or group should be allowed to hide behind the front of a charity if it is suspected of criminal activity- and most are. The shutting of the JeM linked madrassas should be the first of many.

As far as action for Indian appeasement goes, if Pakistan has arrested Masood Azhar and other suspected of being connected to the attack, it can do no more until further evidence is provided from the Indian side. Nawaz Sharif wants to send a team to Pathankot to investigate and this should be allowed to. For Pakistan, the challenge will be to ensure that the initial actions against JeM are converted into sustained and meaningful measures that ensure the long-term dismantling of militant groups.