While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif makes promises to defend Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty, his government in Pakistan remains hopelessly hesitant towards taking action against religious extremists residing in the country’s capital. Despite requests by the police, the interior ministry is not allowing registration of a case against the Shuhuda Foundation and students of Jamia Hafsa. In December 2014, they issued a press release and a video, in which they swore allegiance to ISIS and invited the terrorist organization to Pakistan to avenge Operation Silence – a military operation carried out against Lal Masjid in 2007.

Even if the toxic nature of the ideology and its dangerous implications were to be ignored, this act alone ought to be reason enough for legal action. According to the legal advice received by the police, the content of the press release and the video comes under offences contained in sections 121, 121A, 501(1) and 501(2) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which includes the offence of “waging war against the state”. That is exactly what transpired in 2007 leading to the operation, and it is still going on to this day as cleric Abdul Aziz continues to deliver hateful sermons and openly threatens the state with dire consequence if any action were to be taken against him. The state, through its consistent inaction, is not going to be able to contain the problem. Reportedly, the reasons given to justify the delay in registration of the case are that any such action may create panic, spread fear and unnecessarily highlight the issue. If only the concerned officials and political higher-ups were as keen to study the negative outcomes of inaction against entities inviting foreign terrorists to Pakistan.

In a post-Peshawar Pakistan, the Prime Minister had told the nation that the state would establish its writ and take terrorists and their supporters to task. As time passes by, it is becoming increasingly clear that the government is not willing to act on its words. Of course, acting against powerful elements carries certain implications. That is why they are called hard decisions, to be taken by leaders in the interest of their country. If the state cannot even enforce its writ in capital territory, it cannot expect to root out militancy and extremism from the rest of the country. It must act and prevent further harm.