The Home department of the Government of Punjab should be appreciated for initiating an anti-terrorism campaign in the print media. The advertisement has appeared in national newspapers and encourages people to report any incidents of hate speech, sectarianism, and even wall chalkings on designated hotlines. This is an example of counterterrorism strategy that is the need of the hour. Since the unveiling of the hastily drawn up National Action Plan almost a year ago, law enforcement agencies have been unable to curb the violence and consistent security threat looming in the country.

This week, nearly all private schools have been hastily closed and final exams have been crammed into one week instead of two. The reason stated was the ongoing heatwave that had temperatures around the province soaring to 49 degrees Celsius. But students had continued to attend school despite the extreme weather and the announcement to close school prematurely begs to ask the question if the announcement can be owed to the security threat that has followed the death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour by a US drone strike in Balochistan? Even though it’s probably not, we are all bracing for a backlash.

An overly militarised response to terrorism is simply not enough. A revamped, intelligence-guided counter-terrorism strategy, led by civilian law enforcement agencies, as well as an empowered local population can go a long way to help dismantle terror networks and ending radicalisation through hate speech. The capacity of the provincial police forces must be strengthened so they can respond in an appropriate manner that comes through these designated anti- terror hotlines. The power of the ordinary people must not be underestimated and it is encouraging to see that the government is allocating resources to involve them in the future of this country.