The horrific tragedy at the Army Public School Peshawar on December 16 was supposed to have galvanized state and society in Pakistan to decisively act against terrorism of all brands. “Never forget Peshawar” was the battle cry heard from all directions. The subsequent All Parties Conferences held on December 17 and December 24, 2014, that approved the 20 points National Action Plan (NAP) made tall claims in this regard.

Actually it was Operation Zarb-e-Azb, that had commenced in June 2014, so far the most serious and large scale military operation against terror outfits in North Waziristan and some other parts of FATA was regarded to be the actual beginning of an effective fight against terrorism by a state that had not only remained for a long time in denial about the existence of terror sanctuaries, but had also been known for regarding some of the terrorists networks as “strategic assets”. Even then the Pakistani state and society could not maintain full focus on this campaign as a prolonged and intense political agitation and sit in organized by PTI against the government of PML-N, largely perceived as scripted ones, was a national distraction from the military operation and the miseries of millions of Pashtun IDPs. Then came the Peshawar tragedy that was supposed to have fully redirected national focus on terrorism. Or so we thought.

The only point, out of the 20 points NAP that took no time in implementation, was the establishment of military courts for putting on trial persons described on that occasion as “Jet Black” terrorists Amendments were made quite hurriedly in the Army Act of 1952 for expanding its jurisdiction to include civilian terrorists The Constitution of the country was also amended to provide legal protection to the military courts. Some major political parties had serious reservations about amending the Constitution for military courts and they had to go with it with a very heavy heart for it was dubbed as the “national consensus against terrorism “. Looking at the unholy haste of the government to pass the Constitutional amendment the public impression at that time was that trials against terrorists in military courts may just be a matter of a few days. But that was not the case. More about it later.

The major change that seemed to have taken place after the Peshawar tragedy in the rhetoric of the previously reluctant government and some major political parties was to own the war against terror as “our own war” and that there was to be no distinction made between good and bad Taliban. Initially after the December 24 APC numerous committees were formed for the implementation of different points of NAP with great fanfare and and subsequently there were a few public briefings about the successes achieved. The names of some notorious terrorist networks previously known as “strategic assets” were also mentioned as possible targets of the state action against terrorism. The Parliamentary Committee that was formed by the APC held on December 17 to prepare NAP was declared in the 2nd APC as a monitoring committee for the implementation of NAP. But all these committees have faded away if actually not dead without any public explanation. Almost all the banned outfits that were supposed to be disallowed to work under new names are publicly more active than before and some of them are taking out regular public processions for putting pressure to determine the state’s foreign policy. Reforms program in religious seminaries is history now and they are back to business as usual. The only regular government announcements that we still hear are ISPR’s press releases about Zarb-e-Azb which has destroyed important terrorist infrastructure in Tochi Valley of North Waziristan and parts of Khyber Agency. This operation has successfully removed terrorist sanctuaries from areas inhabited by the Dawar tribe in North Waziristan, but it has yet to launch a full-fledged ground operation in Datta Khel and Shawal inhabited by Utmanzai Wazirs. This area is yet to be cleansed of local and foreign terrorists still hiding there although there have been regular aerial bombardments by the Air Force and drone attacks by US drones. Also, the Afghan Taliban who shifted to other areas, are still able to use pockets in FATA for their activities across the border and a summer offensive by them across the Durand Line seems imminent. Major extremist militant outfits in the Punjab still seem to be able to avoid the wrath of the state.

The amendments in the Military Act were specifically aimed at terrorists who take up arms by misusing the name of religion or sect. It was regarded to be a major shift in the state policy as a realization that the large private militias of extremist religious militants (some of them war hardened) posed the main threat to the state. Some religious political parties vehemently opposed it labeling it as “biased” against religious circles. But in practice this thrust of the military courts is still missing so the religious political parties are not anxious anymore. The very brief information (if it can be called information at all) about the decisions of the military courts was an ISPR Twitter message about upholding of the military court convictions by COAS. It didn’t give any details about the nature of cases, process and venue of trials or convicts. The process attracted criticism from at least one national newspaper for not being transparent enough to qualify for “the justice being seen to be done”. The interior ministry that was supposed to forward cases to military courts is missing in action.

If important sources in Islamabad are to be believed the Ministry of Interior is not the body supervising the war on terror. The PM office, which is already burdened with so many other things, is also reported to have taken over an anti-terror campaign. But so far there is no public knowledge about it. In all the provinces the apex committees are holding the fort.

In the meanwhile Pakistan remains obsessed with the situation in Yemen, which has the potential of turning us yet again into a frontline state. If the Arab Sheikdoms want to surround Iran with the IS and other extremist militants to get her bleeding by a thousand wounds which is the most attractive option? There are no prizes for guessing. The recent murder of eight Iranian border guards at the hands of Jaish-ul-adl (who also claimed responsibility for the crime aimed at journalists in Dalbandin, Balochistan), just one day before the visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister to Pakistan should remove any doubt about the nature of the forthcoming threat.