An exclusive story was published by Dawn last year, claiming that the civilian government has warned the military to act against militants or face international isolation. The government claimed that the story was fabricated, calling an immediate inquiry, which resulted in the dismissal of the Information Minister and a Special Adviser to the Prime Minister at the time. Coming to the defense of his colleagues, the now former Interior Minister addressed the media and said, “The media has turned a non-issue into a big issue without any reason.”

The former Interior Minister could not understand why this was a big deal. He could not understand why the general public felt betrayed, or why the media took such offense to the apparently fabricated Dawn exclusive.

As we all sat around our television screens on the night of August 8, watching a political extravaganza play out on the GT Road in Punjab, a loving husband, father of two darling young children, and a devoted son, paid the ultimate price in our collective fight against terrorism.

Major Ali Salman was tracking a group of terrorists in the hills of Malakand. He had gathered intelligence on a terrorist hideout and decided to take it down. Without hesitation, he led his soldiers into the hideout; he saw a terrorist in a suicide vest and in trying to save his troops, jumped on him and embraced death, completely aware of the sacrifice he was making.

Three of his soldiers, all family men, made the same sacrifice. Havaldar Ghulam Nazir, Havaldar Akhtar and a Levies Sepoy Abdul Karim, were killed, each stopping a suicide bomber, in turn saving the lives of their fellow brothers-in-arms.

Hours before his death, Major Ali had spoken to his young son, who begged his father to come home early, he promised his son that he would be home soon, a promise that he kept. His family received him yesterday; he was draped in a green flag, with a white stripe that represents minorities, and in the center, the crescent and star, symbolizing progress and light.

Pakistan has lost nearly 7,000 military fathers, sons, and husbands to the war on terror. This is why it is a big deal when the government claimed to have told the military to take action against militants or else. We as a nation have lost more than 80,000 of our fellow countrymen, women, and children, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters, which is why the media and the general public took such offense to the so called ‘Dawn Leaks’.

I beg our new Prime Minister and his Cabinet to take notice of our combined sacrifices and to strengthen the National Action Plan and the National Counterterrorism Authority. To equip our law enforcement agencies with the required resources and training to better tackle the task of countering terrorism. To work with other state institutions such as the media and judiciary to keep us united in this fight. And along with every citizen, I ask you Mr. Prime Minister to renew our pledge to crackdown on terrorism and not rest until the job is done.

Our collective enemy, the terrorist, wants us to be divided, wants us to lose focus on the war against him and his kind. We play right into his hands and forget that this is a fight for our lives, for our freedoms, for our future. There should be no politics and no difference of opinions when it comes to tackling the menace of terrorism. Major Ali and his men did not make the ultimate sacrifice for a political cause, political party, or a religious cause; they did it for all of us, for Pakistan, the country they loved, the country that belongs to our children. They embraced death knowing that their actions will ensure Pakistan’s longevity, securing our future.

As citizens of Pakistan, it is our shared responsibility to fight terror, it is not a war solely fought by our armed forces. Let us not forget the faces of those eight-year-old children, mercilessly killed by terrorists at the Army Public School in Peshawar; let us not forget the dozens of young children turned orphans in an instant when their families were attacked in Lahore, celebrating Easter; let us not forget the thousands more that we have lost as a nation; let us honor their sacrifices and continue the good fight until we as a nation have overcome the scourge of terrorism.

May they all rest in peace. Amen.