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'Pakistan can't defeat terrorists if it doesn't kill extremism'

On Wednesday, heavily-armed Taliban militants stormed the Bacha Khan University, named after the iconic Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

Washington: As long as Pakistan fails to "kill" the extremist ideology that presents Islam under siege and India and the US being responsible for its afflictions, Islamabad can not defeat terrorism, a top US scholar has said.

Michael Kugelman, of Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, said that until Pakistan is willing to make life more difficult for all extremists operating within the country, ordinary Pakistanis will continue to suffer tragedies like the one that recently struck a university in the country.

On Wednesday, heavily-armed Taliban militants stormed the Bacha Khan University, named after the iconic Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and opened fire on students and teachers, killing 21 people.

Kugelman said that as long as there is extremism, the likelihood of radicalisation - and its violent byproducts of militancy and terrorism - is strong.

"It's as simple as that, and it means that no matter how many militants are killed on the battlefield, more will materialise in rapid succession," the Woodrow Wilson scholar said in an op-ed on CNN yesterday.

"Pakistan may be killing off terrorists on the battlefield, but it has not killed off the ideology that fuels them," he said adding that the country has failed to craft a counter-narrative to combat the hardline rhetoric deeply entrenched in its society.

"This ideology emphasizes themes of Islam being under siege, and of India and the US as being responsible for Pakistan's afflictions. It is propagated by religious leaders, parroted by wildly popular television news anchors, and published in school textbooks," he said.

Referring to the Bacha Khan university carnage, he wrote that the attack should not have come as surprise. "Pakistan offers a highly enabling environment for extremism."

In addition, hardline ideology is deeply conspiratorial.

"So it's little wonder that in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Bacha Khan University, some prominent Pakistani media personalities and even former government officials suggested that India and a broader 'international conspiracy' were responsible for the tragedy," he said.