Is the National Action Plan being implemented in full spirit or it’s just paper work? Well, it depends on how you define the National Action Plan. If the plan was to placate the populace and continue the current status quo, in light of the fallout from the Peshawar APS attack then the National Action Plan is a resounding success.

But if the National Action Plan was going to actually follow the terms set forth in the plan document then, alas, we have woefully missed the point. Has North Waziristan been cleared of all terrorists and hideouts? Unclear. Even today, kidnapping victims somehow turn up in areas of FATA according to media reports. If there are no terrorists or hideouts and if the area has been “cleared of all miscreants” as the press releases state – where are these kidnapping victims being taken?

Northern Balochistan is rapidly turning into a terrorist haven. Similar havens in South Punjab and Sindh are thriving. In such circumstances, calling such efforts “full spirited” is a dangerous exaggeration, at best.

Point no 16 of NAP reads: “Ongoing operation in Karachi will be taken to its logical end.” But the federal and the Sindh government are at loggerheads over the special power of Sindh Rangers, simply, because most of the vested interests of those in power are fuelled and tied to the keeping terrorists and mafias safe. Do political entities and establishment organisations not foster and nurture members of gangs or even banned outfits?

If so, why would one even expect that they would cut off their own arms for “the good of the people”. It is truly unfortunate that those who hold the banner of public representation are foremost in supporting such criminal elements. But until these state actors actually decide to pursue a policy of zero-tolerance for terrorism or mafias, these problems will continue to fester.

NAP stresses “concrete measures against promotion of terrorism through internet and social media”. But we need to see how much success has the government achieved in this regard?

The only tangible change one can see in this regard is the promulgation of an ill-conceived and ill-drafted bill of law i.e. the Cyber-crime bill – a law so subjective that charges can be brought up against absolutely anyone who uses the internet. Meanwhile, terrorist outfits continue to use social media unabated because the implementing agencies are tragically inadequate to the task of screening and stopping the spread of hate speech or fundamentalist preaching. I don’t see any successes in this equation.

The responsibility for the recent suicide blast in Quetta has been claimed by a splinter group of the Taliban. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility for the attack at police training centre in Quetta. NAP’s point number 7, the defunct outfits will not be allowed to operate under any other name, portrays a rather different situation.

It is in the nature of terrorist outfits to splinter when faced with controversial leadership. That is the whole point of “taking out the leader” in targeted operations or drone strikes. The problem is two-fold: firstly, we have either not understood or, if we have, are unable to take advantage of this splintering as a component of our overall strategy against terrorism in Pakistan. With effective planning, splinter-groups can be made vulnerable to infighting which reduces the job of the State. But so far I have not seen any such strategy formulation.

Secondly, ask yourself how many banned or “rebranded” outfits set up charity camps to collect animal skins last year on Eid-ul-Azha or this year on Eid-ul-Fitr on main roads of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and you will have a concrete answer to the level of ineptitude that our State has displayed. Either the State is not keeping lists to track such rebranded outfits or the entire exercise is plain eyewash.

Under NAP, criminal court systems will be reformed. How much the government has achieved in this regard and how much the state still lacks in reforming the criminal court system?

Despite severe lags in other departments, there is evidence to suggest that military courts, as formulated under NAP, were set up and are functioning. There are only two problems with this:

These courts should have been set up as an auxiliary to the Civilian court setup. Military courts make the process too opaque and, consequently, the common man doesn’t see justice being done. All we hear are statements like “the COAS has approved capital punishment for X, Y or Z”. This weakens the social impact rather than strengthening it.

For a very long time it felt as if the only terrorists we had in jails or being processed at courts were somehow tied to attacks against Musharraf. Imagine, the State had these people incarcerated for years; had been paying for their residence and meals at the expense of the tax-payers money. And until the attack on APS Peshawar, no one actually thought “Hey, we have terrorists in our jails. Perhaps we should process them.”

These aren’t inefficiencies. They are indicative of State policy and establishment mindsets. Thankfully, some headway is being made in this regard, now.

The government has set December 31 as the deadline for the return of registered Afghan refugees. Will the government be able to achieve the task by the end of 2016?

I highly doubt that the government will be able to send the refugees home by December 31st. This is just another deadline in a series of ever-extendable deadlines offered to the refugees. The problem is many of the original refugees are now dead and their progeny have established business and economic activity in Pakistan. How do you extricate second, and sometimes third, generation refugees in a country where they have been scattered throughout the length and breadth?

NAP’s point 10 calls for registration and regulation of religious seminaries. This, however, does not seem to extend to Pakhtunkhwa as the ruling PTI govt gave a grant of Rs 300 million to Darul Uloom Haqqania.

There are a couple of observations I would like to make here. Firstly, registering a seminary and giving them a grant are not, in and of themselves, mutually exclusive activities. That is to say, giving Darul Uloom Haqqania 300 million rupees doesn’t exempt them from mandatory seminary registration. But, what really is the purpose of registration?

Is it not to identify that so and so establishment is actually a seminary, to establish its geographical location, to establish the course curriculum being taught there?

Why can’t these things be done without a particular seminary filling out a form?

Everyone knows where Darul Uloom Haqqania is. Everyone knows what is taught there and its historical repute. Why can’t a government surveyor go there and collect the information and register it even if they don’t want to be registered?

And if they don’t want to be registered or submit to a scrutiny of their curricula and premises who will shut it down?

Registration is meaningless if there is no response mechanism behind the exercise. And, so far, the response mechanism is conspicuous by its absence.

Despite the ‘collective efforts’ of the civil-military brass, we need to see that why Pakistan hasn’t been able to achieve peace?

Pakistan took over three decades to get to where it is, today. Inviting, training and residing terrorists from all over the world under a so-called “Afghan Jihad”; creating and tolerating havens for such scoundrels throughout the country – these are not things you can reverse in a year. They can be reserved but it requires a certain… staunchness of policy. Recent months have been somewhat encouraging in this regard with COAS General Raheel Sharif speaking out publicly and plainly against terrorism and terrorists and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif supporting similar sentiments but both leaders need to take stock of their own domains in order to root out terrorist sympathizers and supporters. Until this is done, we will continue to see more APS or Quetta tragedies unfold and it is Pakistan’s leadership that will have its hands stained with blood.