The fourth round of the US-Pakistan Track-II Bilateral Dialogue, held in Islamabad on November 6-7, contained many distinctive events, none more so than a visit to a place that used to be the hub of terrorist activities not so long ago — North Waziristan!After a soft launch by holding a cricket match followed by two days of intense and stimulating debate on issues encompassing President Trump’s new Afghanistan/South-Asia strategy, tackling terror, Afghan reconciliation and the India and China factors impacting US-Pakistan relations, all eyes were focused on the last day and the unusual experience it promised.Flying into Miranshah, there were formal briefings at the Headquarters 7 Division about the salient features of the operation conducted and the development work in progress, and at the Tochi Scouts Fort within metres of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border which has been fenced.The terrorist groups were able to capture the imagination of the uneducated people and inspired them to dream of a godly state that would dispense equal justice regardless of classThe visit epitomised the unflinching courage and determination of Pakistan Military and all those officers and soldiers involved in various phases of the Herculean operation, marks of which are sprayed across the peaks of an unending range of hillocks and mountains. A firm handshake tells stories of their insurmountable resolve and a look in their eyes sees sparks of indomitable courage flowing out. This brave and valiant breed of souls, having overcome their fears, look into the horizon for more conquests to make Pakistan and the region secure from the onslaught of terror which, not very long ago, was threatening to take over.But, they have not come this far without surmounting enormous challenges. Tales of untold bravery and the ultimate sacrifice are writ large on every pebble that moves under your feet and every hilltop that your sight can stretch to. They fought for every inch of territory where the enemy’s tentacles were dug deep, where mosques were turned into headquarters for indoctrinating people and their basements converted into terror training camps and ammunition producing factories.We saw all this as we were taken through the city of Miranshah. In place of these terrorist camps, one can now see the rising edifices of schools, hospitals, technical training centres, sports stadiums, grape orchards, fish farms, dates processing plants, shops and multi-storey markets — an unbelievable transformation over a very short period of time.The immediate part of the operation having finished successfully, there is still a lot to be done to make it sustainable. This would come in shape of a change of narrative and a political will to implement it, without leaving a shadow of doubt lurking. That, unfortunately, appears to be missing, thereby rendering the success fragile and liable to be overturned in spite of capture of territory which may continue to remain under control. Human mind is the bastion of every change that is envisaged. The terrorist bands were able to capture the imagination of the illiterate people and inspire them to start dreaming of a godly state that would dispense justice irrespective of discrimination. They may have retreated, but have left behind thoughts of what should happen as part of a government-led endeavour aimed at improving the lot of the people of the areas, particularly the downtrodden and the underprivileged.The development activity that we saw is a positive step in that direction, but what still needs to be done is eliminating the germs of quick-fixes spread by terrorist incursions which transformed city squares into hanging fields as living examples of dispensation of justice. People have to be encouraged into becoming an organised force equipped with the power and resolve to resist the germs of radicalisation and militancy.What is also important is to regulate the seminaries and other such centres which have been instrumental in misguiding the young and the impressionable and converting them into carriers of an extremist philosophy which spread quickly through multiple layers of the deprived, the poor and the destitute.The failure in implementing the National Action Plan (NAP) has caused serious apprehensions among those who want this country transformed into a terror-free, just, equitable and egalitarian society that would be aware and enlightened to differentiate between the good and the evil, the just and the unjust and the sustainable and the not so sustainable. This should not come by way of scribbling between lines, but as a complete and wholesome narrative which the people are convinced about and which they are willing to spread around so as to become the dominant thought process. Anything short of this minimum would leave ample space for the miscreants to get into the act again.With the government embroiled in saving the disqualified, the money launderers and the criminals, there is little that it appears capable of doing by way of supplementing the military’s successes in eliminating terror. We are likely to remain embroiled in the unholy battle of ensuring that the traditional mafias, though scarred and bruised, continue to rule the state to their advantage, and the disadvantage of the seething millions who survive on the cusp of extinction.The icing on the cake was a two-hour interaction with the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa who, very graciously, had invited the delegates to dinner. One was amazed at his understanding of the conflicting currents impacting Pakistan and the region, the state of the US-Pakistan relations and his willingness for a candid and free-flowing engagement that covered various facets of the war against terror. General Bajwa was frank and forthright in discussing various aspects of the existent repertoire and the need for all echelons of the state to be on board.The dominant impression that one carried of the day was one of achievements which need to be savoured, but also of multiple trials which may still be lurking. This can be remedied by fine-tuning and launching a comprehensive strategy to help people regain their confidence in the state, its dispensation and their own future.The eventful track-II engagement marked travelling far into the hinterland which signifies an important pillar of Pakistan’s defence, but going beyond resides in the domain of a dream for securing peace not only amidst us, but also around us in the entire region. The writer is a political and security strategist, and heads the Regional Peace Institute — an Islamabad-based think tank. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @RaoofHasanPublished in Daily Times, November 14th 2017.