After years of brushed off claims of terrorist hideouts in Quetta and the rest of Balochistan, the increased frequency of attacks seems to have finally spurred the provincial government into action. The government, alongside the Balochistan Police, the Frontier Corps and other security agencies has decided to profile households, mosques, seminaries, schools and government buildings in order to track down any illegal residents or suspicious persons. Apart from households, there is to be a blanket ban on residing in all of the above mentioned structures, which are to be registered with local police stations immediately. All in all a worthwhile endeavour, but whether these new edicts will be implemented in letter and spirit is anyone’s guess.

It remains to be seen whether this new plan will be extended across the rest of Balochistan, or whether it will even cover non-state actors that have previously been ignored – the Afghan Taliban’s leadership’s presence in the province is an open secret. Distinguishing between good and bad terrorists, and looking at some as strategic assets is why the country stands where it is today. If the provincial government is earnest in its attempts to limit terror operatives in the province, it must do so across the board and without exceptions.

Remember, this is the province with swaths of territory still escaping the state’s writ, and the only state presence in other areas is in the shape of security agencies. This is the province with which Sindh shares its boundary with ill-disguised trepidation – the Sindh government is mulling raising a dedicated force to man the provincial boundary connected to Balochistan after it emerged that some of the terrorists operating in the province might have moved in from Balochistan.

The attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine in Sehwan has been highlighted as a turning point – but we have already seen so many of these before (the most major was the APS attack before this). Over the course of the last three years, APCs have been convened, a National Action Plan was drafted, and numerous other promises about clamping down on terrorism have been made. The Balochistan government’s new plan must not fade into the dirt like all other ‘well-intentioned’ measures to have preceded it. If carried out properly, the registration of all mosques, seminaries etc and monitoring anyone residing in these structures will go a long way in preventing would-be terrorists and facilitators from carrying out their aims in the province and beyond. But as always, there is fine print to be taken into account, and lofty measures without implementation are as empty as the government’s promises to avenge the blood of every civilian life lost in this long and bloody war against terrorism and extremism.