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The ball is now firmly in the government’s court with all eyes fixed on Prime Minister Sharif.

With ‘Bloody June’ still fresh in our memories, it is very easy to lower ones expectations with regards to the new setup’s ability to tackle the scourge of terrorism and sectarian violence rampant in the country. As far as the terrorists are concerned, it’s business as usual.

Leading up to the elections, much was said about the PML-N’s soft focus towards the TTP and the sectarian militant outfit of LEJ. Many raised concerns about the PML-N’s intent and ability to counter the challenge of terrorism. The party has always championed a stance of reconciliation and dialogue with the TTP and the Baloch separatists. It was hoped that this stance will not hamper their ability to stamp down hard on these organizations once they came into power. Sadly, in the wake of recent events it seems that the lack of condemnation in the past five years will turn into lack of action now that they are in power.

In my earlier piece, I expressed the fear that the ruling party’s soft stance towards the TTP will be taken as a weakness of the State and the terrorists will try to test the government’s ability to deal with the bloodshed. Staying on script, almost every violent antagonist in the country carried out acts of violence that were unusually symbolic in nature. The BLA destroyed a beloved national monument in Ziarat, the TTP slaughtered tourists in Nanga Parbat, the SSP blew up more Hazara Shia’s in Quetta and a timed-explosive went off in Mian Nawaz Sharif’s own constituency in Anarkali, Lahore. The ball is now firmly in the government’s court with all eyes fixed on Prime Minister Sharif and the new Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar for a response.

The response sadly is one everyone, including the terrorists, expected. The government blinked first and the Prime Minister, after issuing the usual statement of condemnation and promises of delivering justice, was off on a scheduled trip to China to “promote trade and regional friendship”. Business as usual indeed.

The government’s response to these incidents has been to announce an All Parties Conference in Islamabad to come up with a comprehensive strategy to tackle the menace. A similar conference already took place in February where the Mian Nawaz Sharif was very vocal in his support for dialogue with the terrorist outfits and the conference agreed on this strategy. So unless there has been some new development that the government is keeping from us, this conference is a waste of everyone’s time and further alienates parts of the country that continue to pick up their dead and see precious little effort from Islamabad to ease their suffering.

It is clear that PML-N’s have prioritized the economy over dealing with the law and order situation. This is borderline moronic. One finds themselves in a very uncomfortable position of agreeing with Maulana Fazal-Ur-Rehman and saying that the scourge of terrorism must be dealt with before there can be any hope for a nationwide sense of stability. What the present government’s hopes of economic uplift can achieve is only limited to Punjab and pockets of Sindh and come at a very heavy cost of the lives and peace of the rest of the country. Only a month in office, PML-N have already begun to drop the ball.

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