Raddul Fasaad was much needed and this very well may be the ’better late than never’ predicament. The country, addicted to its double games, and drowning helplessly in its disillusionments, had made little progress on the NAP. How and why they would fall short of spearing through the commitments, given the sort of loss we experienced in APS that ill-fated December, makes no sense. Could it be laziness, shamelessness or simply wrong priorities?

The new operation sounds violent, and it should be. In the form of coordination between all different uniformed and civilian agencies, it would seek to clean the country from the terrorists left behind post Zarb-e-Azab. While the operation’s jurisdiction falls across the country, the main focus is and must be the spoilt man-child that is Punjab. Long has the country allowed the banned organisations to continue existing in obvious safe heavens in the south of the province. The recent spate of attacks is a clear reminder that no terrorist can be a lesser evil. The Afghan mujahidin too taught us important lessons when they formed the Taliban government in our neighbouring country and refused to listen to us. One of such lessons was: there is no way to leash a terrorist and to stop it from coming back and biting you. The Afghan mujahidin did just that. The banned organisations in Punjab are doing the same.

As of now, we can’t really put a finger on who exactly is to be blamed for the safe heavens. Historical rumors insist that the military ignored their existence because they could act as proxies for them when it came to hitting India where it hurt most. We still don’t have an official admitting of the story (and indeed never will) but Ajmal Kasab insisted the same. Of course there is no denying the fact that Hafiz Saeed remains protected even when the international environment is blatant in their insistence of his dirty past. The military, so it seems, continues to hold him as an asset.

However, the military alone cannot get the brunt of this. We have dirty fish in our political pond, those that we, somehow, continue to re-elect our leaders. There is the likes of Rana Sanaullah who infamously rode around on the top of a pickup truck, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ahmed Ludhianvi of Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). Repeating the credentials of the said organisation and their links to multifarious likely organisations would be redundant. The man Sanaullah now continues to be the Law Minister of the epicenter of Pakistan’s woes, even after being relieved once of his duties after the ghastly Model Town massacre.

And then there is the always impatient and grumpy Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who when schooled for meeting a delegation of members belonging to likely banned organisations, insisted in the National Assembly that banned organisations could not be equated with terrorists. Clearly we have the wrong people in our governmental infrastructure.

So, the Pakistan of today has supposedly risen up to fight its demons, something we saw it did before Zarb-e-Azab as well. In retrospect, then, we had been jab at the snooze button. The country fell short with its NAP commitments. The military courts mercilessly hanged hordes of accused. The country, in the end, remained unsafe, even if not as much as before.

The lesson we learn out of our actions are many. The most important is this: an army operation alone fails to do the job we want it to do because we are simply asking a lot from it. Expecting an army operation to clear away the menace of terrorism is naïve. Terrorism is not just a person or an army. It is an ideology and ideologies don’t die. They have to be weakened till they are forgotten. Weakening the prevalent terrorist ideologies is no easy task but it needs to be done. It will come in the form of infrastructural changes and a strict check of the law and its related institutions. But more importantly, it needs to be a choice every Pakistani makes themselves. A societal expulsion is necessary one that must be guided by the government, which replaces the conditions fertile for terrorism recruitment with better life opportunities. This one’s no chess game. It is a throw of the dart and at this moment we must target nothing less than the bullseye.