The heavily forested ravines of the Shawal Valley are home to Taliban hideouts and the valley itself is a key smuggling route into neighbouring Afghanistan. Pakistani troops on Friday began an offensive to try to push the Taliban from this last major stronghold in North Waziristan. The area is a stronghold of Khan “Sajna” Said, a leader of a Taliban faction whose name was added to a sanctions list of “specially designated global terrorists” by U.S. authorities last year. But will this be the last push? Will it ever end?

Unlike the Pakistani Taliban who are splintered into various groups the Afghan Taliban are a cohesive group. The uncertain attitude of the Afghan government towards talks is only making the hardliners in the Afghan Taliban stronger. They will lose interest in talks and simply wait till a time they can again take over. It will then be very easy for them to join hand again with the TTP, and Pakistan and Afghanistan will be back to square one. With the dramatic decrease in popularity for President Ghani from about 80 percent after the election to about 30 percent now, the Taliban are still very popular in Afghanistan—even more than the present government. The operation in the Shawal Valley has to be a success, they must be crushed here in Pakistan, so that they do not become even more formidable once the Afghan Taliban renege on their promises of peace.

The sad fact is that the National Action Plan, agreed upon by all parties after much deliberation, is simply a paper with no implementation. And while the military action may be a good short-term measure, Pakistan cannot curb the menace of terrorism without ideological rehabilitation. Militias have been openly holding rallies despite the announcement by the Prime Minister while launching the NAP that “no armed organisation will be allowed to operate”. The post-APS internal security management has to be reviewed. The provincial apex committees are stop-gap arrangements and the police and courts, have to be strengthened. Civilian governments will have to act to end the culture of impunity that aids and abets terrorism.

Pakistan’s rising graph of terrorism-related deaths shows no sign of slowing. Terrorism related deaths in Pakistan have increased 748.15 percent between 2005 and 2014. As many as 56,480 people have been killed since 2005, at an average of nearly 14 a day. Prior to the bus attack, 1,520 people have been killed in Pakistan in 2015 alone from terrorism. If these numbers do not make the civilian government and the people who apologise for outfits like the TTP finally understand that all religious parties must be muzzled, all militant wings banned and arrested, then nothing will. This is not final push then.