It is heartening to see the Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan trying to make amends for the verbal slip up in the Senate, where he tried to draw a distinction between sectarian groups and terrorist groups. Also requiring clarification and amends are his alleged links with proscribed groups – chiefly his meeting with the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) chief Maulana Samiul Haq. Verbally on point, he “regretted” his remarks, reaffirmed that no space will be given to terrorist or sectarian groups to operate, and perhaps most reaffirming of all, told reporters that a law was being prepared to stop leaders of proscribed organisations from taking part in elections.

His apology may be too little too late, but if he manages to pass this important bit of legislation as part of his apology to the nation, then the whole episode may be viewed positively given the overall trade off.

This legislation, however, remains essential to his redemption. It came to a shock to many that Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi, son of Haq Nawaz Jhangvi who had founded Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan – a sectarian organisation that was later banned in the country – won the provincial assembly seat from the often communal city of Jhang. More so than the election, the fact that he was allowed to contest the election at all raised eyebrows all across the country and drew criticism from all political circles.

It turns out – as the Interior Minister sheepishly admitted – that proscribed organisations, while banned from all manner of activities, are not banned from contesting general elections, and that this glaring loophole only became apparent when a public outcry was raised over Haq Nawaz Jhangvi’s election.

While this massive oversight of the people in charge of drafting the original anti-sectarian and anti-terrorist legislations is surly one to be marvelled at, the focus must now be on the chance to fix it, and to fix it in a thorough and satisfactory manner.

This involves not just patching this loophole, but several others that concern how the state and other institutions deal with members of proscribed organisations. For example, one of the most exigent problems is the ease with which members from these proscribed organisations can avoid censure by simply changing the name of their group or by otherwise morphing their group in small cosmetic ways.

This is a golden opportunity to fix the way the state deals with banned groups, and if Chaudhry Nisar delivers, he will not only be forgiven, but widely commended.