Pakistan must stop, for its own survival, dividing terrorists "into benevolent jehadists and the malevolent ones", a leading Pakistani human rights activist has said.
IA Rehman also said in a column on Thursday that while both India and Pakistan must act with great prudence to save the agenda set by their two leaders, "a special responsibility has fallen on Pakistan".
"The challenge Pakistan faces is not confined to defending itself against any Indian allegations of exporting terrorism or convincing the world of its innocence; much more real is the need to prevent the cancer of extremism from destroying Pakistan," Rahman said in Dawn online.
"While the bills for our folly of preferring the good Taliban to the bad ones are still coming in, we are now required to stop, for our own survival, dividing terrorists operating within our boundaries into benevolent jehadists and the malevolent ones."
Rahman, also the founding chair of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, said the January 2 terror attack on the IAF base in Pathankot "threatens to undermine the prospects for the India-Pakistan understanding" that had improved after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lahore on Christmas Day and his meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
The attack left seven Indian security personnel dead. Indian security forces killed all six attackers, who are believed to have sneaked in from Pakistan. Islamabad has promised to help New Delhi track down those who masterminded the audacious attack — if they are Pakistanis.
Rahman said Pakistan cannot forever rely on the excuse that terrorists who mount attacks on India do not spare Pakistan either.
"This argument means, in the final analysis, that Pakistan cannot overcome the challenge to its own sovereign status, an admission no self-respecting state can hope to live with.
"If some non-state actors in Pakistan can seriously threaten India and thus precipitate an India-Pakistan clash, then they can also find some other ways to undermine the Pakistani state.
"It should not be impossible for Islamabad to realise that whenever any Pakistan-based terrorist group assaults India, it threatens the integrity of Pakistan itself," Rahman added.
Rahman is the director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.