Suspected Islamic militants killed at least 160 people during the new Pakistani government’s first month in office, fueling concern that the country’s leaders lack a coherent strategy to fight the pervasive problem of violent extremism.
The ruling PML-N party scored a resounding victory in national elections in May with a platform that promoted peace talks as the best way to quell a domestic Taliban insurgency that has killed thousands of people.
The plan quickly fell apart after the Taliban withdrew their offer to talk in response to a US drone strike that killed the group’s deputy leader at the end of May.
The government has taken a few public steps to show it is dealing with the attacks, which included the killing of international tourists at a scenic mountain, a suicide bombing of women university students and an attack on a funeral that killed a lawmaker.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif flew to Quetta, an area where minority Shiite Muslims have been repeatedly killed by radical Sunni extremists. He brought senior security officials with him, including the head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Critics say even with the other concerns, the government should take a stronger line on militancy.
“Even if they are devoted to other issues, terrorism is still the most serious issue because it undermines the credibility of the state and shatters the confidence of ordinary people,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Pakistani political analyst.