They come, they kill, they get killed. They come again, are mowed down, and return again to dance the dance of death.

As they did in Peshawar airport on Saturday night. Like shadows in the dark of night, they approached the PAF base with stealth and cunning. Then they unleashed hell.

When it was over, many of them were dead. So were some innocent civilians. Scores of men women and children were severely injured and traumatised.

Except that it was not over. Sunday morning saw fresh terror. Some attackers were discovered holed up in a nearby village. By afternoon, they were dead. So was a brave policeman.

Security forces eliminated the terrorists. But not the terror.

The latest attack is a reminder to the Pakistani nation. It is a reminder that those who mean us harm, can still do us harm at will. It is a reminder that political battles we fight should not blind us to the existential one. The attack was in fact a message from the attackers: “you ignore us at your peril.”

And ignore them we are. A decade and thirty thousand deaths later, we are still confused. Is it our war? Is it not? Are these maniacal terrorists or misguided countrymen? And is this a war without end?

We know the questions, but not the answers. So we opt for the most convenient course of action: nothing.

The President says we can’t do much till there is a political consensus. Say what? Does he mean that his government will sit pretty and twiddle its thumbs till all parties in parliament – yes allies and opposition – say with one voice: “lets take the war to those who brought it to us.”

Shorn of such a consensus, the government would rather fight the judges than fight the terrorists.

If the government has no spine, PML-N and others have no will. They would rather not take on the terrorists for fear of a backlash from their perceived rightist votebank. Perhaps if they shut their eyes tightly, the terrorists will go away.

Analysis paralysis? No, just paralysis.

This suits the TTP fine. They have the will, where the politicians don’t. They have an ideology, where the politicians don’t. They have a plan, where the politicians don’t.

And the armed forces? Like the innocent victims of terror, the men and women of the armed forces are paying the ultimate price. They shed blood while parliamentarians hide behind the skirt of consensus. Take ownership, they tell the government and the parliament, and we will do the rest.

But the ownership is not forthcoming. Why? Because it is risky business in an election season. Winning votes is clearly more important that winning the war against terrorists. That is how governance is done here in the Democratic Islamic Republic.

Huh? Governance? Think GHQ, Mehran, Kamra and now Peshawar. Think how these daring operations were planned and conducted. Think of meticulous eye for detail and think of deadly innovations. Think of commando-style raiding and lightening blitzkrieg. Think of he resourcefulness, methodology and firepower. Think of death, destruction and mayhem.

Then think of our reaction. They are hitting us again, and again, and again. They have decapitated our troops and policemen, they have slain our men and women, and murdered our children. And they are doing this again, and again and again.

But somehow they have not been able to convince us that this is our war. So at least they have failed on one count. Thank God for small mercies.

Thank God also for those security personnel who engage the terrorists even when there is no grand plan in place. These uniformed men kill them. But they do so when attacked. They are in essence fighting a defensive war. In this war, the timing, initiative and planning all lie with the terrorists.  The security forces kill and get killed only to be told this is not our war. They are told this is not their war.

So whose war is this?

Nobody seems to know, except the terrorists. Nobody seems to care, except the terrorists.

And so it goes on as the body count mounts and graveyards fill up. Politicians sharpen their knives for their looming electoral battle as judges polish their gavels for legal combat. Delimitation and voter verification are planted like deadly mines on a flammable outfield as parliament focuses on dismantling the National Accountability Bureau.

Yes there’s plenty going on in the political theatre. Bravehearts are beating warm drums and chanting battle cries. Pakistan is moving on.

But is it? Can it?

Not when they are out there. Not when they can come again and again, and kill and be killed. Not when they can attack at will and breach unbreachable security. Not when they can still bring the war to us – and to our children.

The writer is the host of “Tonight with Fahd” on Waqt News. Email: fahd.husain1@gmail.com, Twitter: @fahdhusain