The state’s concern with the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) has been there for all of us to see. In the months following Naqeebullah Mehsud’s extrajudicial killing, when the movement started picking up steam, the displeasure of the state was conveyed to the group’s leaders, as well as the general public. Even as efforts toward dialogue and compromise played out in the background, a disconnect could be seen between the two parties. With the engagement alternating between accommodating and unyielding, and complicated by the myriad of uninformed positions taken by politicians and commentators, the air surrounding the PTM debate was thick with assumption and speculation. Where did the government stand on the demands of the group’s supporters, what actions were they intending to take, how legitimate is the grassroots nature of the group - there was no answer that could be given with any measure of confidence.

All that has changed with Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor’s press conference on Monday. Following the uncertainty caused by the Prime Minister’s comments while touring the former tribal regions, the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations’ (ISPR) strong and articulate stance has cleared the air with a definitive note. The cards are on the table, the accusations have been made, and the facts have been laid bare. There can be no more ambiguity about the state’s stance on the PTM.

The simmering undercurrent of discontent that has characterized the movement, and the charges against its intentions, cannot co-exist for much longer. There needs to be a conclusion to this conflict, and military’s statement, given in plain straightforward words, will ensure that the path ahead is clear, and no mischief can be concocted.

The PTM has serious charges placed on it; it must provide a satisfactory answer if it intends to be taken as a Pakistani entity at all. Or else its alien nature has been defined in the press conference of the DG ISPR with resounding effect.