The attack on the Bohra community mosque is a stark reminder of the cost we have to pay for the struggle against extremism. The fact that a counter-attack was expected is no consolation to the grieving relatives of the victims, nor should it be presented as such. The state should be doing all it can to mitigate the fallout of their actions, especially since the militants have clearly displayed their mode of reprisal; attacks on minorities. In 2015 alone, a church and three imambargahs have been bombed, while the second half of the previous year saw attacks on Hindus, Ahmedis and Sikhs.

Admittedly, the government can’t be expected to stop every possible attack, but it can be expected to focus its resources once it has discovered the enemy’s intentions. So far the security given to minority places of worship has been increased from before, but that is part of the overall beefing up of security around sensitive buildings under NAP. The government has taken no special precautions such as the ones it took to secure schools after the APS attack. Much more so than this, the government’s failure to contain and pre-empt the fallout of such sectarian violence is a cause for serious concern; one that if not addressed, can lead to greater instability.

The Taliban counter-attack was expected, but the Talban’s conflict is with the military and it makes strategic sense to target the other combatant’s military installations. Yet, the majority of the attacks target minority civilians. Although this kind of violence may satisfy ideological motivations, at a time when the Taliban factions are coming under pressure, their actions must be motivated by survival.  Once one considers the Youhanabad riots, a glimpse of the desired result, and how it helps them survive can be seen. If the minorities are constantly targeted, at one point they will take up arms to defend themselves on their own, be it in the form of the Youhanabad riots, an outpouring of mob violence, or the assassinations of ASWJ members as an organised group. More importantly, it forces minorities to retreat within their own communities and further isolates them from the majority. These fault lines are being used by extremists to push their agendas. It may have escaped the attention of the mainstream media, but the Youhanabad riots have prompted a stream of extremist propaganda by sectarian groups inciting majority Sunnis against Christian communities. The state needs to check the build-up of such sectarian atmospheres if it wants to turn this war against terrorism into a sustainable peace.