These past six-weeks have left the nation with plenty to consider. Despite their limited numerical strength and firm sectarian roots, Pakistan’s far right — led by Tehreek e Labbaik (TLP) – continues to stake its claim to key policy matters. From deciding who sits on the nation’s Economic Council, to dictating the fate of Pak-Dutch ties in wake of the blasphemous caricatures contest, their ability to demand leadership compliance through violence is a perilous practice. One which calls for a critical revision of Pakistan’s deradicalisation strategies, of both past and present. Political mainstreaming of hardline outfits has clearly not paid off. Hundreds of candidates tied to outlawed groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Ahle Sunnah wal Jamaah (ASWJ) took part in the 2018, general elections, on the false premise that political integration shall render violent elements peaceful. Rather, outfits such as TLP have added to their anti-Ahmadiyya support base, using newfound political legitimacy to impose blasphemy checks on the PTI government. Just last month, its threat of marching on the capital to replicate the violent 201, sit-in, against the Dutch government, evoked endorsement from 2.2 million voters nationwide. While still a fraction of Pakistan’s overall population, TLP’s ability to override democratic autonomy, and take religio-political matters into its own hands, is alarmingly effective. Despite their limited numerical strength and firm sectarian roots, Pakistan’s far right — led by Tehreek e Labbaik — continues to stake its claim to key policy matters. From deciding who sits on the nation’s Economic Council, to dictating the fate of Pak-Dutch ties in wake of the blasphemous caricatures contest, their ability to demand leadership compliance through violence is a perilous practice To what extent can the Imran Khan leadership, voted in by the majority, allow the far right’s penetration into official discourse? A question that political mainstream struggles to answer. A more plausible approach to dealing with the religious-right, is to let progressive economic and social commitments take their due course. Qualities of merit and integration drive this progression — both of which stand contrary to the divisive inclinations of the far-right. A glimpse of this correlation was evident in Imran Khan’s decision to reconstitute an 18-member Economic Advisory Council, early in September. The need to deliver on Pakistan’s soaring debt crisis prompted PTI’s appointment of Dr. Atif Mian, whose association with the oppressed Ahmadi sect evoked mounting pressure from religio-political parties, including TLP. However, the government’s decision to publicly back the academic’s appointment, citing “the protection for minorities” and “a refusal to bow down to extremists”, came as a rare defiance to a highly contested issue. Previous governments have steered clear of the disputatious Ahmadi issue, following the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in 2011, and the resignation of PML-N Law Minister Zahid Hamid last year, at the behest of violent TLP protestors. For PTI to confront the deep-rooted dogma in its first month — through an Ahmadi’s nomination to the Council — set a positive precedent for future times. In order to deliver on this precedent, however, the PTI government must learn to firmly resist pressure. Imran Khan’s last-minute decision to exclude Atif from EAC, amid fears of countrywide religious protests, was more a case of retaining long-term rule at the center. Moreover, Atif’s removal was contingent upon a ‘calling attention notice’ submitted in the Senate. Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Tehreek-e-Labbaik, the two parties pushing for a majority vote on the notice, made up for their dearth of seats by eyeing PML-N’s support. PML-N’s well-known differences with the serving government lay the groundwork for maximum signatories, and the economist’s immediate removal. The core message for Pakistan: if it wants to deter extremist-ideologies from aligning with big party interests, it must rethink its stance on political mainstreaming. Amid inclusive economic and health reforms, Imran’s chances of demonstrating flexibility against the far-right rest on how accurately his political rhetoric aligns with his actions. For instance, electoral advocacy for Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and presidential support from TLP members, make it increasingly difficult to design policies that are independent of far-right interests. There are also important foreign policy implications. The United States continues to demand stronger checks on terrorism financing, specifically Jamaat-ud-Dawa, whose operations under the guise of charity, have long questioned Pakistan’s terror-financing regulations. Furthermore, the implementation of a 26-point FATF action plan is integral to Pakistan’s counter-terrorism narrative. Despite repeated assurances, Pakistan’s efforts to scrap JuD’s fundraising operations remain inconsistent. On September 13, the Supreme Court allowed JuD and FIF to continue its ‘welfare operations’, dismissing the interior ministry’s plea for a ban. The plea, aimed at giving legal force to Pakistan’s crackdown against JuD, was dismissed because a petition by JuD chief was ‘still being heard’. The fact that prohibited outfits continue to acquire legal stake, raises questions about the trichotomy of power in the nation. The decision also questions the judiciary’s application of Pakistan’s Anti Terrorism Act, amended via presidential ordinance in February, to facilitate the seizure of JuD and FIF properties across Punjab and KP. If Pakistan is to come clean on its FATF commitments, and restore democratic autonomy at the center, it must determine what constitute its national interests. Especially, when radical outfits derive the benefit of the doubt under law, and emerge unscathed. The writer is a political commentator for The Diplomat Magazine, and author of “And the Candles Blew” Published in Daily Times, October 11th 2018.