The Pakistani government recently signed two truces with two homegrown radical right-wing outfits: the Tehreek-e-Labbaikya Rasool Allah in Punjab and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Many have brought the Pakistani government under fire for its decision to “concede” negotiations to two organizations displaying militant tendencies, with the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Chaudhry, himself agreeing with the notion when he said that “neither the government nor the state is completely ready to fight extremism.” “We have just seen how the government retreated in case of TLP,” the Minister elaborated. While his statement could also be interpreted as a defence of the government – branding the choice to compromise with the militant right-wing as an inability – but when given about nuclear power with an army ranked 10th most powerful in the world, having the sixth-highest number of active personnel, the statement could only mean one thing: the state did not want to retaliate against (this blatantly illegal) use of force. The extremism we see manifesting before our eyes, within our country is all us. But should you blame Imran Khan or his government for their decision to not use force against protestors? While it is justified to object to the government’s decision to accept most of the demands of a band of hooligans, it is, however, unwise, in my opinion, to object to its decision to choose talks over reciprocating with force. A recent report suggests that Khan had, in fact, allowed the use of force against TLP protestors, but the army advised against it, advocating, instead, in the favour of negotiations. This, it was suggested, was the most effective and peaceful method of getting the protestors off the streets. The military cited the incidents of Lal Masjid and Model Town and their consequences to support its opposition to the use of force on TLP protestors, who had blocked key highways in both the cities of Lahore and Islamabad on various occasions. Should you, then, ‘blame’ the military, for the outcome? Should they have preferred widespread bloodshed over a truce, and, hence, the preservation of human life? Isn’t that what modern, humanistic values stand for on all platforms – the sanctity of human life? Isn’t that what the death penalty was repealed across most of the globe for? Sure, the TLP didn’t show a whole lot of respect for human life either when it – through no fault of anybody else’s -repeatedly chose violence over peace, resulting in the deaths of several police personnel. But since when did we start advocating for peace by displaying only the need for aggression? (Answer: since always, yes – but a history of misaction does not justify its continued usage. Whatever happened to reform?) Let’s also not forget that it wasn’t the military that brought the TLP out on the streets or the TTP back into its bombing vests (or so we hope). It didn’t knock on Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s door back in 2015 and ask him to step out, all (mostly proverbial) guns blazing, and form an extremist political party. It also wasn’t the government – even if it did set the precedent for blocking the roads in protest against the incumbent government’s decisions and actions (oh, the irony). It was, to rephrase and simplify Fawad Chaudhry’s opinion on the roots of extremism – us. The extremism we see manifesting before our eyes, within our country – whether it’s the vandalization of Hindu temples, the beheading of Noor, the bombing of Shiite mosques, or the blocking of roads – it is all us. It is who we have become as a society. Unjust, intolerant, dogmatic, violent. To the extent that we unanimously feel appalled – even offended – at our government’s decision to choose peace when it really could just opt for bloodshed and get it done with – when it really just has the power to do so. Let us not forget that intolerance and dogma can come in many shapes and forms; they don’t have to follow a certain dress code or speak a certain language. An intolerant person could be you, me, or any average Joe who believes in the absolute infallibility of their own beliefs and opinions. Let’s not be like Joe, shall we? Let’s choose peace – whenever we have the power to do so. The writer is a student and teacher of history.