The government seems committed to its promise of keeping extremism in check. Around 1600 clerics of different religious schools of thought, from all over Punjab are under surveillance where it has become mandatory for them to register their attendance with the area police regularly. With the deadly the ideological threat creeping in, one can only wonder if this is the most appropriate step the government should take.

As part of the National Action Plan (NAP), the government last year had decided to fit these hard-line clerics with microchip bracelets. But the authorities have deferred the plan secretly after the religious leaders denounced the rulers for introducing what they called “liberal laws” in a conservative society.

The attendance of the clerics who are put on the watch-list has to be checked on a regular basis. Many religious activists straightforwardly rejected the proposal while some of them went underground or fled to other provinces when they came to know about the new policy. But as always the question remains: how effective will this be? Over the past months, the state has claimed to arrest a number of individuals for ‘extremist activities’. Yet we must ask if these efforts have genuinely succeeded in sending a strong message to hate-mongers and dissenters.

In the latest initiative, will the clergy’s effort to police their own deliver better results? History would suggest otherwise as in the past, well-meaning initiatives — launched with fanfare and similar promises of cracking down on divisive elements — have fallen through as mainstream religious parties have failed to isolate hate-mongers.

Religious circles staged countrywide protests to condemn the execution of Mumtaz Qadri early this month. They are also criticising the Punjab rulers for introducing new laws to protect women against violence. Chaudry Nisar has talked about not letting any stone unturned to combat terrorism, but has clearly declared that Maulana Abdul Aziz, the radical cleric of Lal Masjid, has done nothing wrong. Why is that we are always looking at fighting extremism based on numbers, but do nothing to stop the ideology behind it? The way we are fighting terrorism does almost nothing to defeat the radical ideology, and is doing very little to fight the real threat.