It is now a fact that terrorists are on the run in Pakistan. They have been flushed out of their strongholds in Waziristan and elsewhere in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The Global Terror index shows marked reduction in terrorist attacks and in terror related deaths over the past three years. In 2016, there were 956 deaths from terrorism; the lowest number in a decade. This is a 12 per cent decrease from the previous year and a 59 percent decline from terrorism in Pakistan’s peak in 2013. However this is not the end of terrorism. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), after getting a good thrashing in FATA, managed to find safe havens and masters in Afghanistan from where they keep launching attacks on selected targets in major cities. The frequency of terrorist acts has definitely diminished but lives continue to be lost. Aided by our external enemies, the vengeful injured snakes are attacking from their hide-outs in Afghanistan’s Nouristan and Kunar provinces. Their present strategy involves targeting senior police officers. During the last six months, senior police officers have been targeted in Quetta in five separate terror incidents. Last month DIG Police Hamid Shakeel Sabir, one ASI and a constable were killed by the terrorists in Quetta. In Peshawar Additional Inspector General Police was killed in a suicide attack in the Hayatabad area. Earlier in February two senior police officers were killed in a suicide attack in Lahore. The second tactic of the new terrorist strategy is to attack on soft targets like educational institutions, shrines and markets. Two weeks ago the terrorists attacked Peshawar Agricultural Training Institute where they killed nine people and injured 37 others. The TTP claimed responsibility for this reprehensible act. In Karachi, as per CTD report the TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are trying to re-establish themselves and are rebuilding the capability to launch large-scale attacks on public places and security forces. This surge must not come as a surprise for intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies as by now they are well aware of the nature of this sort of asymmetrical warfare, which is a game of hide-and-seek that goes on for years at a stretch. Many countries of the world have faced the menace of terrorism for a protracted period and many more victims have joined the club in recent years. It has become a universal phenomenon, which is here to stay. However it keeps changing its mode, scope and tactics. Governments and people should understand that, like crime, terrorism has become a part of life in various countries of the world. Therefore as the police tackle crime on a daily basis, terrorism has to be handled on a daily basis. Pakistan is not an odd country in this regard. In wake of the new surge of terrorism, security strategists and policy makers must review the emerging scenario and redesign the strategy to counter the new wave. To begin with we need to redefine terrorism in light of the nature and approach of terrorists in the region and country. Presently terrorism in Pakistan is violence conducted by home grown militants who in some cases are aided and guided by foreign actors. Their attacks are carried out with multiple objectives; including destabilising Pakistan, undermine its economic projects and to creating anarchy to debilitate the writ of the government. Their tactics are to attack soft targets, kill police high ups, fan the flames of sectarianism, employ social media to create disenchantment and unrest among the public especially the youth, and to undermine CPEC. Undoubtedly these are strong, systematic and well-thought-out multi-pronged, conspicuous and surreptitious forays on Pakistan. The primary challenge is for the intelligence agencies to have fore-knowledge of these threats and terrorist plans. Intelligence agencies must develop a comprehensive database of terrorists, facilitators, agents, sleeper-cells and of the patterns of their modus operandi so that pre-emptive actions can be taken. The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) can play a pivotal role to bring about much-needed coordination between the intelligence agencies and the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) to ensure timely action in all spheres and in all areas of Pakistan. Political exigencies and the election fever which will soon be upon us must not divert the government’s attention resources or energy from NAP. The terrorists and their machinating strategists, local and foreign, always look for chinks in defence The National Action Plan (NAP), a roadmap devised with national consensus, must be fully activated and acted upon to address the above problems. Its implementation must be given precedence over all other matters. Political exigencies and the election fever which will soon be upon us must not divert the government’s attention resources or energy from NAP. The terrorists and their machinating strategists, local and foreign, always look for chinks in defence. The terrorists specialize in waiting for moments of weakness to launch attacks and activate their sleeper-cells to create unrest and mayhem. It is a matter of satisfaction that Pakistan has done a remarkable job of curtailing the activities of terrorists as is evident from the last three years’ record. Conversely many countries of the world, including India, Afghanistan and Nigeria have not been able to bridle terrorism as successfully as Pakistan has done. Pakistan has come out of the danger zone and is taking the right steps and measures to fortify its position. One of the most important steps taken by Pakistan was to erect a fence on the Pak-Afghan border to block the convenient entry of TTP militants from Afghanistan. There is a dire need to make herculean efforts to plug the porous Pak-Afghan border with fences, patrolling and aerial reconnaissance. The threat of TTP, its affiliates and the Islamic State emanating from Afghanistan might not be over in a year or two. Therefore, in order to tackle the Afghanistan situation, a separate counter insurgency and border force must be raised so that it can secure our western border. It will give much needed respite to the armed forces so they can focus on the eastern border with full might and resources. The aim and strategy of the tenacious tug of war with terrorists and militants should be to end it in our favour by annihilating the terrorists as soon as possible. The key is to continuously pre-empt their evil designs and counter them before hand. 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 12th 2017.