The terrorist attack on Peshawar Army Public School on December 16, 2014 in which a large number of young kids and school teachers were massacred had seen a different kind of response from the people and government of Pakistan compared to what we are witnessing in the aftermath of attack on Bacha Khan University(BKU) in Charsadda. At that time despite the overwhelming shock and grief people of the country and the government and state institutions had quite efficiently and swiftly come out with a coherent response to fight and defeat extremism and terrorism. In a week’s time an All Parties Conference formulated and approved a 20 points National Action Plan (NAP), which was quite comprehensive according to Pakistani standards. Not only that, the entire political and state leadership of the country made categorical statement to the effect that war on terror in Pakistan is our war and now onward no distinction will be made between good and bad Taliban when combatting terrorism. This is a point that had been publicly and consistently opposed by some of the major political parties, well known for their soft corner for Taliban terrorists. All this sounded very good. Numerous committees were created for implementing the NAP. Apex Committees were also formed in all the four provinces giving a strong say to the respective military commanders in the administrative affairs of the provinces. But with the passage of time it became quite clear that the political will for implementing anti extremist and anti terrorist program is simply not there. So the most crucial points of NAP remained unimplemented. NACTA, which was supposed to be the key element for coordination in counter terrorism measures, has not been operationalized. Madrassa reforms have not moved forward even an inch. Stopping proscribed organizations from acting under new names remains to be an unfulfilled pledge. Committees after committees are created for mainstreaming FATA without any tangible progress. Rehabilitation of the IDPs remains a forgotten story. Action against militants in Punjab remains a distant dream. And the list goes on and on.

Apart from amending the Constitution in an unholy haste to carve out legal space for creating military courts no efforts were made to implement most of other points of NAP. Operation Zarb-e-Azb did destroy some terrorist sanctuaries and disrupted the command and control system of TTP resulting in reduction in the number of terrorist attacks in the country. But the recent spate of attacks in FATA and Pakhtunkhwa clearly indicates that the terrorists have regrouped once again for striking in Pakhtunkhwa apart from gaining almost a free hand to enter Afghanistan for launching large scale attacks there which are unprecedented in the last one decade. The declared aim of the final clearance of Shawal and DattaKhel in North Waziristan that was supposed to be the most formidable sanctuary of Taliban and their foreign guests is not mentioned any more for some time.

The chaos witnessed after terrorist attack on BKU is basically the product of state’s obfuscation over the non-implementation of NAP.

Emboldened by the inability of state to eliminate their roots the terrorists are threatening further attacks on soft targets like schools, collages and universities. Citizens of the country are also terrified by the failure of state in curbing terrorism and protecting their lives. Isn’t it ridiculous that the whole debate about securing ourselves from terrorism has come down as to whether we should keep the schools open or closed? If the press conference of Choudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Thursday is any thing to go by the federal government seems to have totally lost it. To him political point scoring and name calling is far more important than guiding the country in anti terror struggle as minister of interior. The PM is nowhere to be seen to take charge, provide leadership and rally the country for fighting terrorism.

Interestingly this time round in reaction to terrorist attack the emphasis was mainly on pointing out the Afghan origin of the attack on BKU.

The use of Afghan phone sims by the attackers was focus of the initial news reports. It was followed by the false news (that became the breaking news on most of TV channels) about the death of TTP leader Fazlullah at his “ home” in Nangrahar province of Afghanistan. And predictably in this sequence came a well-orchestrated campaign in favour of sealing border with Afghanistan. Knowing fully well the impossibility of sealing the border for practical and legal reasons the real purpose of the campaign was to divert attention from the country’ failure in implementing the NAP and to externalize the terrorist problem. It was also partially aimed at creating rifts and misunderstandings between the Pashtuns living on both sides of the Durand Line because the name of Bacha Khan, a stalwart loved and respected on both sides was involved. Although no one can deny the movement of terrorist across the Durand Line from both sides it will be misleading to say that Pakistan has overcome its internal terrorist problem. The recent government action against elements of Jaish-e-Mohammad after terrorist attacks in Pathankot, India has clearly shown that the country has still a long way to go to disarm private militias that threaten security inside the country and in the region, as we know that Jaish is the only one outfit. They’re many more dangerous networks out there.

Any further obfuscation on this issue can aggravate the already critical security situation in the country, raise tension in the region and jeopardize peace process in Afghanistan. There is no alternative to implement NAP on war footing. One earnestly hope that we do not repeat what happened under General Musharraf when terrorists regrouped and got reactivated under the thin veneer of “enlightened moderation “ of the government. People of Pakistan and international community might not have patience for withstanding yet another disastrous doublespeak.