After the attack on children of APS in Peshawar last year, we are told that not only has the nation united against terrorism, but that the state – government and the powerful institutions of the state bigger than any government – is now committed to eliminate terrorism without any distinction of good and bad terrorists. Encouraging. There is a National Action Plan in place on which the state claims it is making progress and getting results. Encouraging again. Civil society too looks inclined to go beyond candle light vigils and those small roadside demonstrations. There is a group of civil society actors that is watching the progress on NAP. Even more encouraging.

Amidst these happenings in the wake of bloodshed and gore in Peshawar, there are things that we are forgetting. And ‘we’ here means everyone. It includes the government, the powerful institutions, the activist judiciary, the hyper active media and the civil society – at least the elements of it who have been ‘bravely’ focused on things not directly related with the APS attack. All of us are forgetting to ask questions that need answers before we embark upon the much-awaited journey of rooting out militancy.

First and foremost, have we fixed the responsibility of the security lapse for the bloodshed of 16/12? Alright, true that we almost never do that. So many Pakistani soldiers were killed in Salala and we don’t know exactly what happened. Our chief of the armed forces went crawling to urge one certain leader of a banned terrorist outfit to kindly help find out who had attacked GHQ. The ultimate humiliation was inflicted upon the entire nation when terror chief Osama Ben Laden was caught from a garrison town in Pakistan.

We don’t really know who did it. We have attacks on our naval bases, Air Force installations, on security forces and many more on law enforcement agencies. More so, we have had vicious attacks on our people continually since 2002 to date. Those who made loud noises demanding for a judicial commission to investigate an injudicious ‘Memogate’ have been completely silent on such a need in the cases described above. Wouldn’t it have been useful if we had a probing Commission – either a judicial one or a broad based one with inclusion of credible personalities from the civil society – to fix the responsibility of incompetence or complicity of the culprit that might have existed within the system?

Hadn’t we been in a much better position to check the future instances of terrorism if we had a tight inquiry commission for umpteen attacks on the Hazara Shia community in Quetta or the Shia community in general all over the country? We do not even remember the date of the massacre of girls from Quetta when they were attacked on their way to college. We did not fix that date as our monthly demonstrations and vigils. May be because they were from a Shia sect and Hazara tribe, both of which have been under attack forso long and so regularly, that we are immune now.

Now that the kids of APS Peshawar have finally shaken our conscience to a level that we are all shrieking with one voice, why are we still not raising this issue of investigating the carnage? I heard the mothers of some slain children of APS the other day in a press conference. The grief had turned into anger. They were angry because the state was not telling them who was responsible for the security lapse that caused their children’s broad day light murder. What suprises me is that no one is supporting them in this. Not even the citizens all over the country who are coming out on the 16th of every month to express solidarity with these parents.

In our fit of rage immediately after the attack, we were asking for ‘death to Taliban.’ But the Taliban were already under attack in Zarb-e-Azb. The anger shortly turned towards Mullah Abdul Aziz who had tried to justify the APS attack on one of the TV programs. An ordinary citizen had had enough from the mullah. That’s how the entire focus shifted to the former asset who had already fallen out of favour. Then Shikarpur happened as well as three other attacks on Imambargahs. We are now focusing – and rightly so – on the banned outfits that have been murdering Shias since long. The SSP, the LeJ, the ASWJ, Jundallah and many other affiliates with dozens of names have to be stopped before they annihilate all of us.

But amidst all this, we missed the elephant in the room. Who was responsible for the jail escape of Usman Kurd, the LeJ terrorist who had planned and executed so many attacks on the Shia community? If in the mid 2000s we had asked for the answer, we might have prevented many attacks that happened afterwards. Similarly, had we had some in-house investigations on the possible ‘inside hand’ after the Kamra attack instead of killing Saleem Shehzad, we would have been in a better position to check the infiltration and many other humiliations might have been prevented.

The question we are missing right now is, who was responsible for the lapse in the case of APS Peshawar attack? Why can’t media voices that are otherwise louder than a lion’s roar, demand an investigative or judicial commission? Pease note, we are the nation who routinely make a mockery of Commissions and Committees mainly because we are used to one-man solutions in the backdrop of our democratic history. Still, we have been making loud demands for a judicial commission for inquiry into alleged election fraud. An assumed election fraud in this case seems to be more important than a heinous attack on our children.

In short, what is needed right now is a transparent inquiry into the 16/12 carnage by an independent Commission having representation from the LeAs, judiciary, legal fraternity, parliament and civil society. This Commission must have the Terms of Reference shared with and agreed to by civil society, unlike the recently made Commission of inquiry on Abbottabad. The Commission should answer key questions like: Who was responsible for the security/ intelligence lapse? Who was responsible for the security of an Army school? Why despite a specific advisory by NACTA about the threat to Army Public Schools, were security measures not taken? Why were previous specific threats to this school ignored? Why were the civilians LeAs stopped from entering the premises of the school a few months ago when an Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) was found in the school? Why was security retracted after the close relatives of senior military officials migrated from the school? Why was the Rapid Response Force not allowed to enter the building on the day of the attack?

These questions have crucial importance in dealing with the menace in the future. If kept unanswered, these can become even more lethal when the enemy comes back. This time he might not be back with a parody song. Before that, this Pre-NAP exercise must be done. Some head(s) must roll or all of us will one day be mourning our loved ones.