Two years have gone by. People have moved on with their lives. Many of the perpetrators of that carnage have been eliminated. Military courts, although expiring, have performed exceptionally well. Civilian authorities have coped with the menace dandily. National Action Plan has set the country on the right footing. An across-the-board implementation of the counter-terrorism and counter-extremism policy has decimated the ultraists. Pakistanis are no longer imputed with extremist ideas. Oh, hang on. Please allow me to break out of this fantasy world for a while. So, the question is: Has Pakistan gone down the barrel or won all the laurels during the last two years?

Few things happen to be too obvious to decipher. But, for those deliberately looking the other way around, ignorance doesn’t always prove to be blissful. After just over one month of those horrific scenes in Peshawar, Wilayat Khorasan, Daesh’s affiliate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region was formally announced on 26 January 2015. For all the conspiracy theorists out there: I’ve something in store for you. Focus on the date of announcement of Wilayat Khorasan. Look East. Republic Day. The conspiracy theory you might come up with would be too ‘raw’.

If you tend to link every heinous act committed in Pakistan to a ‘foreign-hand’, then I request, please don’t read any further. It can contaminate your views with a slew of logic and introspection. 

So, here’s what you need to think about. How do you measure the success of counter-terrorism and counter-extremism policies? Is it about the tangible results? Or, intangible-grass-root level growth is what you’d prefer? Is a decline in the number of suicide attacks in Pakistan post-16th December 2014 is the only yardstick you’d like to use to quantity the results? If yes, then Pakistan has surely leapfrogged in the last couple of years. Incidents of suicide attacks have gradually decreased. Consider the following numbers:

[Source: South Asian Terrorism Portal]

Commendable work done by the authorities. Alright, my apologies for being quizzical again. You continue with the celebrations, anyway. In this day and age, the pattern of warfare and counter-terrorism has altered big time. The ‘one-strike-wipe-out-all’ strategy doesn’t work anymore. Remember folks: ‘Terrorism and suicide bombings’ incorporates a particular mindset that needs to be worked upon. It isn’t an individual that matters, rather the ideology is what drives an individual fighting the ‘holy war’. It’s not an insurgency ‘boys’, please don’t perceive it to be one.

What measures have been taken in Pakistan in the last two years to cater to this ‘ideology’? Have the madrassas (seminaries) been streamlined and the curriculum taught therein regulated? Are the clerics now been appointed by the federal government in order to curb sectarian strife? Are there any measures taken to keep the extremists in Pakistan at bay? Are the kids in Pakistan (particularly those affiliated with seminaries) more exposed to modern day science than they actually were two years ago? Has Pakistan become, or is on the verge of becoming, a more open and tolerant society? Has the foreign funding to religious organizations (associated with either sect) been curbed?

I can go on and on, but this one might just sum it up: Has the number of people who ascribe to extremist ideas and vouch for, in one way or the other, for IS to gain further inroads in Pakistan increased or decreased in the past two years? I leave it onto you to decide, but while doing so, try initiating a discussion with people from across the board. Try indulging the youth in. Try conversing with a seminary student; and once you’re done with all of that, just extrapolate your findings to all of Pakistan. You’ll get your answers.

National Action Plan is an excellently crafted piece. I urge all of you to go through the ’20 points’. It can’t get any better than this- at least on paper, of course. Wilayat Khorasan Shura is too familiar with Pakistan- i.e. in terms of both the terrain and the local people. According to the latest numbers presented by the Royal United Services Institute, there are about 2500- 3,000 Daesh Members operating from within Pakistan. This, of course, is in addition to the ideologically inspired people I’ve been referring to all along.

When it comes to funding, Turkey and Saudi Arabia top the chart. Organizations like Abtal-ul-Islam play a pivotal role in transferring the funds overseas. If you cover terrorism and extremism in Pakistan, then you’d be cognizant of the names such as Khalid Bari, Adil Masood, Naheed Baji and the likes. They symbolize the state of sympathy and the funds the IS is able to attract from the urban areas.

Here’s what the authorities need to be wary of. All of the terrorist and extremist organizations based in Pakistan (domestic and transnational included) will inevitably, in one form or the other- join the ranks of ISIL. Many have done so, and others are contemplating following suit. If Al-Qaeda is having a hard time surviving as an independent organization after the emergence of IS, can you expect any Pakistan-based organization to remain aloof from IS, then? 

A bit of reality check, independent analysis of every news source and refraining from buying into every piece you come across over social media might come in handy.  Recent ‘Pizzagate’ story in the U.S., PK661’s last-minute audio recording and the Fox News ‘foxing’ us with the ‘Iraqi WMDs’ are glaring examples of why introspection, logic and independent analysis is direly needed.

As per Pakistan’s standing on the 2nd Anniversary of the APS attack that jolted the entire world, you’re more than welcome to draw your own conclusions. I’ve laid the framework (or tried doing so), and you’re requested to take it from there.

To all the fallen heroes: It’s been 2 years, yet you’re dearly missed. Life can’t be the same again. You will be remembered forever. God Bless Pakistan!