The reopening of APS Peshawar has highlighted the nature and magnitude of the task ahead, and this realisation is not lost on our political elite. By all appearances, the leadership is committed to the fight, they speak the right words, assume the right facial expressions and jump through the right hoops. There is no doubt that the National Action Plan (NAP) sets out a comprehensive framework for the future and the relevant authorities are gearing up for the job at hand. In a NAP committee session on Saturday, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan revealed plans to ban websites promoting extremism and terrorist propaganda, a move long overdue, along with taking steps to ensure the stoppage of money transfer in bank accounts operated by terrorists. The move extends the fight to the digital domain, and one feels that such committed actions could only mean that the state has taken a strong ideological stance.

These hopes are quickly dashed when one sees the actions of our brethren in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has sentenced Raif Badawi, a blogger, to 10 years in prison, 1 million riyals, and 1000 lashes for merely setting up a website which promotes an exchange of ideas and debate. His criticism of clerical views and policies made by the dreaded religious police has been charged under such ridiculously vague and authoritarian notions as “setting up a website that undermines general security”, “ridiculing Islamic religious figures”, and “going beyond the realm of obedience”. Despite international outcry, Saudi Arabia is unmoved.

Despite being at war with extremism, our government warmly embraces the most extreme ideological country of them all. Our Prime Minister visits regularly for political advice; we happily receive financial aid and ideological mentorship. Deobandi madrassas are stacked with Saudi money, links with extremists are apparent, yet we choose to close our eyes. How can we believe our government is truly committed to fighting extremism when principles and ideologies are as transient as this? If a few perks and oil money can blind us to extremism so easily, than the fight is most certainly lost before it has begun.