The Pakistani delegation in the US working on increasing discussion about the Kashmir issue faced the same questions Pakistani officials always do in media briefings; whether there is any truth to the allegations of Pakistan allowing terrorists to use Pakistani soil to conduct attacks in the region. Mushahid Hussain’s answer perfectly represented the official stance, but as usual, missed the big point; that no one can believe that a country that has one of the best armys in the world and agencies that have historically used terrorists to achieve their ends has forsaken the age-old policy.

The need for Pakistan to act against any and all militants remains as urgent as it ever was, for both domestic and foreign security. Violence as a means of coercion is a power granted only to the state, and for the Pakistani state it is imperative that the international community also sees this, that no actor which is not state-sponsored can use Pakistani soil to conduct attacks here or elsewhere. It does not even matter whether attacks in Pathankot and Uri were conducted by militants situated in Pakistan; the international community sees leaders such as Hafiz Saeed openly conducting rallies in the heart of the country, looks back at instances of Pakistani openly employing strategic depth and then ties two and two together.

And this gives India more fodder to feed its bloodthirsty hawks, and all those looking for a sterner relationship with Pakistan. Not only have we allowed terrorism to fester on domestic soil and let it wreak havoc across the country, we also get lambasted for not doing enough to control regional terrorism.

The whole country needs to look back and remember the catalyst that changed the Pakistani state’s official narrative on terrorists and made us realise the folly of strategic depth. The Army Public School massacre is a dark day in the history of this country. The collective failures of all policies that sponsored terrorism here and beyond by Pakistani governments and agencies came back to haunt us in the most gruesome way imaginable. It was enough to make the whole nation shake with horror and disbelief, and forced all sympathisers of terrorism to pick the side that shuns it. The point here is to not highlight past failures, but keep that grim day as a reminder of what could happen if we fail to curb on this menace once more. Innocent children, the most precious lives of this country, cannot be lost again. Looking the other way cost us once. We cannot afford to let that happen again.