Little less than a month ago, six heavily armed men scaled the walls of the Army Public School in Peshawar and proceeded to go from class to class, killing everyone in sight. Befitting the motto of the school, “I Shall Rise And Shine”, on Monday the school reopened its gates to students, and proved that fear, even in its most harrowingly piercing form, will not cower the Nation. It proved that the path of education and enlightenment cannot be waylaid by the gun.

This barbarity ignited a spark which has set in motion a chain of events. The sorrow was momentous and singular, seeping into all facets of the Pakistani society, and once it died down it was replaced with an equally singular desire to eradicate terrorism once and for all; a watershed moment in a history of ideological division. In the following 27 days, the country saw a flurry of activity towards that goal; not all of which was truly productive. The Prime Minister convened an All Parties Conference, which Imran khan attended, prudently calling off the Dharna. From it emerged a National Action Plan – a decade too late – which lays down the government’s policy towards terrorism. Key points, in the otherwise straightforward document were the establishment of military courts to try terrorists; a move that raised many legal and constitutional conundrums, as well as lending weight to the civil-military imbalance. It saw the resurrection of the NACTA, and heralded a cohesive counter strategy to terrorism. Most importantly, it brought the debate on seminary reform out of the shadows and into the fore. This is perhaps the only step that takes a proactive approach towards preventing the spread of extremism, yet it is facing resistance from religious parties pandering to vote banks, seminary co-operatives and weak-kneed politicians who would rather not ruffle any feathers. The attack also served as a litmus test; drawing apologists and extremists out into the open, prompting brave members of the civil society go up against the extremist Lal Masjid, and win the battle.

For now the forces of extremism are on the back foot, yet they are making a resurgence. In this moment we must not falter or lose our conviction. Pakistan is finally dealing with its disease; let us not turn our gaze away.