On Wednesday, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced the measures his government is taking against terrorism, the two most notable of which were reform of seminary syllabi and mapping of seminaries; both of which seem weak, piecemeal measures. The National Action Plan (NAP), if not completely comprehensive, at least gave the government concrete goals to peruse. Thus far, in archiving these goals the government has been restricted to setting up new institutions, stepping up current initiatives, and improving law enforcement. Apart from these basic administrative reshuffles, the government has faltered when faced with opposition.

The reform plans to include articles on interfaith harmony and tolerance into seminary syllabi, as well as spreading the message through theatre and song. While this is a good step, on its own it is almost meaningless. The issue with seminary education is that it leaves graduates unable to compete in the job market with a conventionally educated graduate. Moreover, unregulated clerics spread intolerance rather that textbooks, which are partially regulated in the status quo anyway. These measures do not change any of this. Rather than bandying about arrests and executions, the Punjab government needs to focus on bringing proper seminary reform. This must include seminaries being mandated to teach compulsory subjects such as languages and sciences and some form of direct government oversight into daily activities.

The APS aftermath was filled with calls for reform from a wide range of officials, politicians and civil society members. Opposition, which has often bordered on open threats, from seminaries overseeing bodies and their sympathisers, has forced the government on the back foot. The government has chosen the path of least confrontation instead of building political pressure and arguing its case. Furthermore, the PMLN traditionally has been sympathetic to religious extremism; who in their party will stand up to pressure from religious and political patrons? How will the government combat vested interests? The country needs answers.