Most of the problems Pakistan has continuously been falling prey to stem from religiously stimulated terrorism. Despite myriad incidents that have taken place over the past few decades, Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) policies have not been able to deliver the goods. The already implemented ones lack vigour and are dubbed dubious by the country’s masses. The state for decades has countered extremism and terrorism using force-notwithstanding the fact that it often makes things worse. Soft approaches towards countering extremism have barely been implemented. Resultantly, the militants have been able to restart their struggles with more fervour than before.To say that a soft approach needs to be adopted doesn’t mean that the hard ones already adopted haven’t been able to yield any benefits. The latter do ensure the eradication of militancy, but not with all its elements.There can be seen a drastic decline in the number of attacks carried out and people killed-from 2586 attacks in 2009 to 370 in 2017 and 3021 killings in 2009 to 815 in 2017. The question that however looms large is; why is the country stillconfronted with extremism whose shackles we seemingly can’t free ourselves from? The answer might sound very simple, but will require serious contemplation. The ideological germs can’t be done away with via the use of force. It requires other tools that not only will take time to render benefits but also sincere efforts on the government’s part. ‘Developing intellectual, ideological responses to annul extremists’ religious-ideological dogmas and evolving a comprehensive rehabilitation or reintegration of militants’ are the nuts and bolts the state needs to make possible and implement as soon as possible.Developing intellectual, ideological responses to annul extremists’ religious-ideological dogmas and evolving a comprehensive rehabilitation or reintegration of militants’ are the nuts and bolts the state needs to make possible and implement as soon as possiblePakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) in spite of purporting at adopting non-violent approaches to counter violent extremism has by and large failed to bring home the bacon, and, as per a report brought about by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), has been far from satisfactory leading the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif voicing his concerns over NAP’s performance. One reason why this policy couldn’t last long is because the extremists have found new avenues in the form of Internet and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to propagate and justify violent ideologies and actions, and get recruits and financial support; thereby making the youth more vulnerable to radicalisation than before.A national-level dialogue forum should be established wherein scholars, academics, political and religious leaders and policymakers from all over the country can exchange arguments in a profound manner and bring forth their recommendations as to how the challenges Pakistan currently faces with regard extremism, violent extremism and terrorism can be countered.Besides, a culture based on tolerance, humbleness and recognition of people’s dissenting views ought to be build.The national education curriculum should focus on fostering the masses to make them good citizens in light of constitution and law while also making the former part of the education curriculum.A high-powered national-level truth and reconciliation commission should be constituted by the Parliament to review militant and extremist policies and to mainstream those willing to shun violence.So as to make NAP functional and effective, it should sketchily be divided into two main components; Counter Extremism (CE) and Counter Violent Extremism (CVE). The former should constitute hard-line approaches towards extremism such as dismantling terrorist groups, ridding hate speech, forming a robust policy, cutting off all ways of financing of the militants, protecting the minorities and banning all such institutes where violence and extremism are propagated. The latter however is what needs to be paid more attention to, for only this can ensure the complete eradication of extremism and terrorism.Pakistan presently has the largest population of youth ever transcribed in its entire history of 70 years, making it the second youngest country in South Asia, only after Afghanistan. 64pc of its entire population is under 30 which makes carrying through programmes to identify and fuse ways to make them immune and extremist narratives and ideologies one very imperative necessity.It’s about time the media also took responsibility and behaved more maturely. The fact that it plays a herculean role in transforming people’s thinking and opinion-making makes it a very significant tool in CE and CVE.Cyber spaces should also be made aloof of all such elements that make the youth fall prey to extremist ideologies.A proper review of Pakistan’s strategic priorities is important to help lessen the chances of the country’s internal security. This will aid in ensuring the proposal of policy measures that contribute towards reducing the risk of violence in the country and improving relations with all its neighbours.Pakistan that has for decades lived in wilderness is in dire need of a leadership capable of seeing beyond the present state of affairs and ensuring that the policies adopted help the browbeaten in the long run.A leadership devoid of vision will further worsen the already worse conditions the minorities of Pakistan are living in.Learning from the past will always be a prerequisite for certifying that the mistakes whose repercussions we are still grappling with aren’t repeated.Should the leaders of Pakistan want it to be more of a pluralistic state than the monistic one it presently is, it mustn’t make a gift of it for the perpetrators of extremism as effortlessly as the past is a witness of.The sins of the past need to be atoned for before long.Uzair Salman is working as a Research Officer at Emerging Policymakers’ Institute (EPI)-an Islamabad based youth-led think tankPublished in Daily Times, January 17th 2019.