The Qazi Isa Commission on the Quetta attack has led to damning criticism of the government and the agencies’ performance on many counter-terrorism issues the country currently faces. Among those already pointed out, the lack of reliable data concerning seminaries, and the extreme level of secrecy surrounding the ISI – making it almost impossible for the court or civilians to contact them – are both solvable problems that the state must look to rectify.

The registration of all seminaries and homogenising their curriculum is an important issue to circumvent to eradicate extremist thought within the country, but judging by the discrepancy in the figures submitted to the commission by the Ministry of Religious Affairs (11,852 registered seminaries) compared to number submitted by the five major wifaqis (26,465 registered) – education board of seminaries – the government’s progress on this end is sorely lacking. But perhaps the most alarming aspect of this information is that the number of students being enrolled at these seminaries continues to rise, making the vacuum of information on what actually goes on at these madrassahs even greater. And while some wifaqis openly shun extremist thought and have committed to rooting out terrorism from within madrassahs, some think of this as the government’s problem. And if the government is not even aware of just how many madrassahs it is to look at, how will it determine whether extremist thought is being propagated, or whether any are being used to conduct terrorist activities within the country?

Another important point to consider is the level of secrecy with which the country’s premier intelligence agency operates. No one is asking it to leave out flyers of intelligence gathered on sensitive national security issues, but at the same time, the ISI should at least be answerable to other branches of the state, such as both the legislative and the judiciary. If nothing else, at least leave them a calling card, for when important information is required.

While the government has taken issue with the Quetta report, and has termed it in many parts irrelevant to the actual attack, it is important for the state to realise that it is not about just the one attack. The idea of any commission investigating a problem is to identify how to avoid the same thing in the future. And this is exactly what the report does – it points out flaws in the counter-terrorism strategy, and should be used as constructive critique. But instead, judging from the Interior Minister’s reaction and constant reminders of looking at improvements instead of problems, patting ourselves on the back for the little work done instead of removing other major gaps in the policy such as the registration of these seminaries seems to be the government’s go-to response.