Extremism has become an effective method to get heard. The extremists cross the lines of normal ethics, values, principles and traditions to sell their ideas and demands. The temerity often goes unpunished due to inactivity of the overcautious concerned quarters. This encourages the budding extremists to operate with impunity. The recent dharna at Islamabad was a clear manifestation of this tendency. It is a matter of concern that we have not been taught how to protest for a demand without showing our violent side. Instead quite often we resort to vicious and aggressive ways of remonstration. When it comes to a matter related to religion we become more loud and intolerant. The no-holds barred approach of the dharna walas and their leadership reignited extremism and propelled it to new heights. Millions of people across the globe watched this drama and must have judged us all in light of this circus. Ironically, after the ostensible win of the fatwa-wielding fiery mullahs backed by frenzied mobs, the educated and moderate masses are constrained to believe that in the Islamic state the moderate Muslim majority has become a hostage of extremist Muslim minority. The resignation of Federal law minister was taken on fatwa-point. A number of other unreasonable demands were accepted from the position of weakness. This has encouraged many other religious toughs to flex their muscles to make their presence felt, to exert their power and to gain financial benefits. Of many ominous fall outs of the twenty days long dharna, one was that it created a dent in the National Action Plan (NAP). After years of terrible bashing at the hands of terrorists we had learnt a bit that the ocean of religious extremism needed to be dried up to strangulate and annihilate terrorism. NAP was formulated with a consensus to tackle terrorism and extremism. We made some palpable headway to tackle the terrible twin. The nation spent lot of time, energy and resources to douse the flames of extremism. Hopes became alive that we will overcome these evils that had bedeviled the society since long. But now there are reports that there would be relaxation on use of loud-speakers by the clerics, ulema would have a say in amending the text-books etc. This would be the beginning of losing the advantages we gained against the extremists and terrorists during the last three years. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) must be gloating over the expansion of the battlefield and the reversal of the situation. While we were fighting an open war with them we have been attacked from inside. This has emboldened TTP which is evident from the recent attack on Agriculture University Peshawar by TTP militants. It again reminded us that social media is a double-edged weapon which can cut both ways Strangely throughout this dharna drama the renowned and respected clergy preferred to stay silent. Had they showed moral courage to condemn extremist outpourings and activities of a lesser known mullahs, the government could have been in a better position to tackle the situation. The opposition political parties also did not show solidarity with the government at this critical juncture. However later on, while addressing a launching ceremony of a book, the Chairman Senate expressed concern over the use of religion to whip up political sentiment. Actually his slain leader’s views on this issue were quite clear, ‘extremism can flourish only in an environment where basic governmental social responsibility for the welfare of the people is neglected. Political dictatorship and social hopelessness create the desperation that fuels religious extremism. She also offered that solution that a people inspired by democracy, human rights and economic opportunity will turn their back decisively against extremism.’ In fact the Mullahs with ulterior motives gang up on ticklish religious issues which a common man would not dare to challenge lest he is declared murtad. The scheming mullahs know the art of intimidation and how to brow beat the devotees with the punishment of sending to the fire and brimstone of hell. I remember a mullah of a masjid in the posh area of Islamabad who once chided the begums of the surrounding homes for their miserliness and announced from the pulpuit, through the loud speaker, that these begums who do not give ‘chanda’ liberally must know one day they will need him (the mullah) to stand before their funeral prayers. He was right because he knew that the so-called educated lot doesn’t even know the funeral prayer and they have delegated this task to the mullahs. Why can’t people at least learn the funeral prayers and tasks like this, which would not let papacy take hold in the society. Throughout this drama social media has been on the forefront to discuss the issue and to spread oodles of information, real and false, about the dharna related developments. It again reminded us that social media is the double edged weapon which can cut both ways. It can inform to enlighten us and at the same time falsities are hard to be detected which can easily mislead us. The excruciating down side is that hoax and falsities can pour fuel on the embers of extremism. The antidote is to arm the android-savvy people with the required tools of awareness and legislation to defeat the deafening din of falsities, exaggeration and propaganda. The writer is Honorary Director Centre for Peace and Security Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Masters in International Security, War Studies Department, King’s College London. Tweets at N Elahi@Aaibak Published in Daily Times, December 6th 2017.