After carving for itself a pioneering path of hate, violence, and destruction, Pakistan now seems to be lurching back to peace and humanity. It’s a long, hard road now, too much damage having been done. Led by the establishment of the country for decades, curricula, teachers, schools, colleges, mosques, madrassas, clerics, and the media were all used for decades to ingrain ideologies of hate and a certain periscope of religion to meet international as well as domestic objectives. The tragic result is there for us all to see and suffer from. For years, we were fed lies and distortions, a lethal brew of God and country, religion and patriotism force fed down our throats. The few who saw through it and protested were marginalised or silenced, till the poisoned fruit ripened: a country that if personified, came across as a psychopath with one hand holding a gun to the world, the other holding a gun to its own head; a people paranoid, schizophrenic, paranoid, unthinking, hating and hateful.

The project was successful. But the success began to kill us. The effects were there to see years ago, and saner minds warned of the coming implosion, but the establishment remained unperturbed – till late last year, when a 140 of our innocent children were murdered mercilessly by the monsters created and nurtured by the powers that be. Perhaps it was the children, or perhaps it was the change of guard that made even the establishment to sit up and change its mind about the direction of the country and its hapless inhabitants.

Though a decision on change of direction was taken, the task remains herculean. Successes have been achieved, but the sweetest, and the bitterest in some ways, was the Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold killer Mumtaz Qadri’s death penalty and to strike down Islamabad High Court’s decision to absolve him of terrorism.

There is too much wrong still, the worst being the psyche of a significant portion of the population. Still, one must laud the realisation on part of the establishment, which is creating the space for saner minds and narratives to once again be heard. I am convinced somehow, that had the poor innocent souls in the Army Public School in Peshawar not been mowed down in December 2014, the Supreme Court’s decision on the Mumtaz Qadri case would not have been the same – at least not as strong, courageous and clear cut as it is. This is not to take away from the sagacity and courage of the judges who passed the judgment – only a reflection on how a changing environment affects the ability of different institutions and persons to assert their values.

The eternal optimist, I certainly believe the Supreme Court’s decision is an important nail in the coffin in making of extremism and obscurantism the state had promoted for decades. The decision was sweet for it affirmed the guilt of Qadri, it was sweeter for affirming what he did was an act of terrorism, it was sweetest for its confirmation that courage and sanity are still alive. The decision was bitter for having to state the obvious: that criticising a law is not blasphemy, it was bitterer for not enunciating that blasphemy is not punishable by man, and bitterest for many reactions it invoked showcased by the IAmMumtazQadri hashtag on social media. The trending hashtag is a heartbreaking testimonial of the deep damage done to society, which, if we survive as a country and a nation, will take double the decades to repair than it took to plunge us into the hellfire our country is now.

One does hope that after the surgical measures, the more structural steps for reshaping the nation’s psyche will kick in. For these real will and commitment is needed, most of all by the political class. Neither the establishment alone, nor the judiciary (both of whom are still infected with the ideology factor to a not insignificant degree still) can pull this alone. The political class will need to screw its courage in the sticking place and play its role, fixing the curricula, amending blasphemy laws and other terror facilitating laws (like the Qisas and Diyat laws) etc. Most importantly, government of the day, which has a majority in parliament and enjoys popular support, must realise the iron is hot and it can actually leverage public sentiment to compliment the initiative taken by the military and being followed gingerly by the judiciary.