It has begun. The country’s armed forces have taken the fight to the tribal North Waziristan Agency (NWA). What makes this exercise unique is the deployment of troops on the ground to secure militant strongholds. Also, unlike before, the ongoing assault from the military is not expected to end any time soon. According to reports, the elected government has received a clear message from its armed forces; the time for talks is over, we’re going in. Consistent failures and setbacks have rendered the government’s reconciliatory approach towards terrorist groups obsolete, and it has nothing more to offer on the subject. Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan may still claim that nothing has changed and the government is going ahead with ‘negotiations’, but the coming days will clearly differentiate between fiction and facts. He may also claim that NACTA officials never proposed seeking assistance from the Army to secure cities against the impending backlash, but several reports suggest otherwise.

The terrorists are expected to wreak havoc in major cities. Sleeper cells will become active. We will kill them there, they will strike back here. Not surprising at all. As their bases have come under attack from the military, terrorists will now rely heavily on their countrywide network to launch retaliatory attacks. In fact, it has already happened. On Saturday, two blasts were carried out in F-6 and G-9 sectors of Islamabad, in which one person was killed and another injured. Six security personnel were also killed in an IED blast in Pindiali tehsil, Mohmand Agency. The idea is to let everyone know that they are within reach. That the bubble they live in could suddenly burst. In order to deter the military from continuing its assault on safe havens in the tribal areas, efforts will be made to overwhelm the civilian security setup. So, what to do then? Call the forces back? That would still leave us vulnerable, forever at the mercy of the aggressors. If it is life we value, then surely, we must be prepared to fight to preserve it. Sitting ducks don’t live for long, not with dignity anyway.

Perhaps it would be wise to accept the reality of the situation, and focus efforts against dismantling the terrorists’ network within cities and elsewhere. Inaction allowed terrorist groups to establish it, and further inaction will ensure that it remains intact or worse, becomes stronger and more effective. Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) will have to become a part of a coordinated and coherent countrywide exercise. Protests from sympathizers in political parties and religious seminaries will have to be resisted. However, the question is: Is the government of Pakistan willing to get the job done? So far, its approach and performance has been deeply disappointing. The people of the country are being killed every day. Let it mean for something in the end.