Ever-increasing terrorism activities, check. A hapless security apparatus, check. Economic meltdown, check. The luckless population at the mercy of the wolves, check. Major stakeholders blaming each other, check. Into the abyss, check! “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”. Nietzsche’s quote seems a very apt description of the state of affairs in the land of the pure today! We have become monsters because we haven’t fought the battles we were meant to, we have taken too long to gaze into the abyss and now the same abyss has engulfed us! An uptick in violence has coincided perfectly with a downtick in the economy. Security situation first. In December 2007, the Pakistani military completed the cleanout of Swat in Operation Rah-e-Haq. This was swiftly followed by Rah-e-Haq II and Rah-e-Haq III. In 2014, after the dilly-dallying of the government of the time, Operation Zarb-e-Azb started and then caught steam in the aftermath of the deplorable APS attack. That was truly a watershed moment in Pakistan! The subsequent fury was channelled into the National Action Plan (NAP), military courts and swift action against non-state actors. By 2016, the War on Terror (WoT) had largely achieved its objectives and relative calm had returned. But the last piece of the puzzle – winning the peace – eluded everyone! Centre For Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) recommends seven key actions to win the peace as part of a post-conflict reconstruction effort. One is the consistent security of people, property, and processes. Two, suitable and inclusive levels of governance. Three, the participation of the local population as stakeholders in the system. Four, the upward mobility of economic life. Five, the mental and social well-being of the inhabitants of the area. Six, proportionate and visible dispensation of justice. Seven, reconciliation of previous actions and individuals. On almost all accounts, the rulers of the day miserably failed! On top of that, since 2016 the powers that be started to look inwards thinking that if they could win the WoT then they could also improve the national narrative, state institutions, pillars of democracy and financial welfare of the system! All this time the defeated miscreants, the bane of our existence, regrouped and rearmed ready to strike again. And that day is upon us now! And again, we will have to start from square one. Cue the promises and reaffirmations of “fixing the enemy for good”. The bugles of war are already sounding! An uptick in violence has coincided perfectly with a downtick in the economy. Second, the downward spiral of the economy. Things are equally despondent here! It is true that the commodity super cycle in a post-Covid world asymmetrically infected countries such as Pakistan that relied heavily on imports. But it is equally true that the policy of our finance wizards of the past and present enabled us to plummet to the hellfire depths of economic negligence. The finest beacon of such a policy was the “Dar Peg” – the simple notion of fixing the US dollar at a specific interbank rate. When Ishaq Dar was officially welcomed back as the country’s finance minister, it was with the hope that he will do something that he hasn’t done in his past stints in the ministry of finance – evolve his thinking! I will let Albert Einstein take this one, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. True to his nature, Dar tried to shout down the US dollar into submission. With fiery rhetoric and angry eyes, he proclaimed that he neither cares about the IMF nor about the US dollar – the two things he needed the most to navigate these choppy waters! When the situation worsened and the promise of bringing the dollar rate below Rs. 200 eroded as quickly as it was conceived, what did Dar do? He stuck to his guns and kept the peg firmly in place! Intended and unintended consequences manifested quickly – the widening gulf between the interbank rate and the market rate, a hyperactive black-market economy, a steep increase in imports and incessant inflation. Since then, and on the insistence of the IMF no less, the money markets have been allowed a free hand to settle the exchange rate between the US dollar and PKR thus ushering in a new wave of price increases! For what it’s worth, the creative literati have had a field day with “Dar Memes”. Fault in our Dars, disas-Dar, Dar-o-tonic, return of the Dar-ages – take your pick! They are a dime a dozen. Would anyone else at the helm of the finance ministry do something different? Perhaps not. They would still have to deal with the IMF, they would still have to rationalise spending, they would still have to burden the masses and they would still need to increase prices. They may not have stuck with the pegging policy which exacerbated the problem many folds if not more. And there within lies, the rub – owing to decades of mismanagement of the past, the space for policy manoeuvres is few and far between. So much so that even angels fear to tread these grounds! In conclusion, the re-emergence of the terror threat and worsening economic situation act as the perfect cocktail for years of strife, upheaval, and uncertainty. There is seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel this time around and what’s left for us to do is sit back and welcome the abyss! The writer is Director Programmes for an international ICT organization based in the UK and writes on corporate strategy, socio-economic and geopolitical issues.