What the President of United States of America, Barack Obama predicted with respect to Pakistan in his last State of the Union address on 12th of January, 2016 seems to be materializing for Pakistan in the very beginning of the year and suggests that more lies in the offing. District of Charsadda, located in the North Western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was rattled with a ghastly attack staged by the militants on the 20th of January. The perpetrators inflicted their wrath upon the Bacha Khan University, a seat of higher education learning. According to most recent figures, the dastardly killing spree took the precious lives of up to 22 souls with as many as 20 people left wounded.

The attack provides an opportunity to the detractors of the sitting federal and provincial governments to make demands for more concrete and effective measures in order to curb the looming threats of terrorism and extremism. In response to the criticism being hurled against it, the federal government will find it most apt to refer to the 20 points of National Action Plan as the underlying panacea to all ills of extremism and terrorism fraught with its effective implementation as the source of salvation for the entire nation of Pakistan.  

Given that invoking extraordinary counter-terrorism measures as delineated in the National Action Plan has, and shall continue to, deter the militant elements from carrying on their subversive carnage. It shall, however, not prevent them from finding ready elements within the Pakistani society offering their services to the militant and criminal enterprises in carrying out their sordid activities against the peaceful citizens of Pakistan.

Establishing military courts, bringing to life the National Counter Terrorism Authority, choking the funding for banned and militant outfits, introducing reforms for seminaries, etc are all measures meant to effectively frustrate the attempts of militants and extremists in executing their bestial activities. But again, it does not prevent them from accruing the services of the fifth columnists within the Pakistani society. 

To find cure to such a mare’s nest, one has to contemplate upon the policy issues within the levers of state institutions, which knowingly or unknowingly have been festering a congenial environment where fifth columnists are readily available to carry out anti-state activities.

Pakistan has marked 68 years of its existence up till 2015; but with time  institutions responsible for managing helm of affairs have failed miserably in balking the burgeoning cleavage in wealth between the haves and the have nots in society. Given that absolute equality is neither wanted nor possible, the state should at least ensure availability of certain services such as health, education, medicine, honorable livelihood, shelter, dispensation of justice and maintenance of law and order, etc.  With provision of these indispensable public services, the state ensures that the prospects of an upward ascension in society are available to all and not exclusively to those who hold innumerable fortunes of wealth. But, in case of Pakistan, the availability of aforementioned services has not only debilitated consistently, but the state seems to be completely abdicating its role in upholding a façade of social foundation in society. Resultantly, what has happened is that entrepreneurial individuals and those of the unscrupulous approach towards life have managed to gather swathes of wealth within their coffers. While the bashful and the meek of the society dejected by the state are forced to live in poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease and lack of security. Those who manage to enter the prized elite circle make the most of fortunes, while those who are forced on the other side of the spectrum are condemned into periphery. Therefore, where we can witness exuberance of wealth in few urban centers of Pakistan, we will similarly not find it hard to find shanty spaces where life is most alienated into despondency in those same urban dwellings.

Moreover, when state seems to have relinquished its role of looking after the weak in provision of justice and maintenance of tranquility in Pakistan, criminal syndicates have found the scope of mushrooming themselves tenfold. The rise of such criminal enterprises, then find the souls of society lurking in despondency and ignominy as ready recruits for their anti-state activities. Those in the present scenario, who are left to lurk the environs of despondency, are in fact the most pliant to embrace the life of foot soldiers for the criminal enterprises with whom the state of Pakistan has shown the resolve of putting up a fight against within the past two years.

The grueling inequality emanating from the state abdicating its responsibility, also manifests itself with an imbalance which exists between the regions of Pakistan. Little wonder that certain regions in the north west and south western vicinities of Pakistan have still not been able to ward off the attire of tribal settings with screeching absence of modern development. Meanwhile, some major urban zones of the country are exhibiting an abundant and to some extent a vulgar display of wealth.

Fault-lines, created on account of the screeching and regressive inequality, also provide an opportunity to the regional foes who are at loggerheads with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.  

With respect to Pakistan, extremism particularly religious and militant extremism shall continue to stand its ground unless the state fulfils its responsibility and pledge of affording a progressive and contented life to its inhabitants. Unless this esoteric factor is not understood by the policymakers, the myrmidons of criminal syndicates shall continue to proselytize the dejected and the dispossessed of the society abandoned by the state within their ranks and shall continue with their subversive and anti-state activities to the detriment of the greater interest of Pakistan.