The federal government, during a session of the body on Thursday, reconstituted the Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) as the Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS). This was in line with the government’s aim to abandon the redundant National Security Council and to widen the scope of the CCNS to better coordinate efforts among the civilian leadership, and military and intelligence heads.

During the meeting an important decision was taken to holds talks with all extremist groups, on the condition that they lay down arms. A refusal to do so would then result in decisive military action. As a directive, this is a clear route for Pakistan's fight against militancy, even if it is in direct contrast to PM Sharif's offer of unconditional talks one day earlier, in his televised address.

Popular sentiment in the country has been in favour of dialogue; while the military has insisted that the only option is fighting off the threat, with full public support.

Hours after the DCC meeting, a blast on an Army vehicle in Karachi, close to the Rangers Headquarters, killed one and injured sixteen people. A second device was found and dismantled by the bomb disposal squad. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.

In light of such continued provocation, and the recent, well-publicized decision that those who do not lay down arms will be pursued with military force, it remains to be seen how Nawaz Sharif will respond to the Karachi attack.

The military, with its insistence on public support for the process of elimination of such anti-state elements may be placing too high a premium on such a consensus. Such attacks undermine the very foundation of state authority, which the military represents and is meant to protect.

The political government, which is mandated by the people to take such decisions as are necessary, as per its own decision not one day back must now prepare for a military response to those who have demonstrably spurned the government’s offer of talks.