The death toll in the Peshawar school massacre stands at 130, and counting. Security personnel are still working on securing and clearing the premises. Our thoughts and prayers are with the angels and their families.

Those poor souls were made the victim of our mindless policies and follies of our elders. They didn't even know the meaning of "strategic depth ", "security state", "strategic assets" and "proxies". These were our yester governments and security apparatus which coined, defined and implanted these terms.

As one Urdu poet has famously said, “Waqt karta hai parwarish barson; Hadsa aik dam nahi hota”

Reports claim that over 50,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives due to the ongoing terror attacks since 2001. I am sure many of the deceased of Peshawar attack were born after 2001. What was their crime? Their prima facie sin was to be the children of a reckless nation. A nation which has made its name in distorting world's most peaceful of religions. A nation that has always worked as a paid messenger, killer and executioner on behest of others.

We specialise in offering our land for an offshore war, time and time again. In the meantime, the fruits fall in few laps, few hands, and the rest always remains subject to collateral damage.

Wasn't formulating a comprehensive security and foreign policy that addressed our issues the prime responsibility of previous and current regimes? Will Pakistanis one day be strong enough to ask questions from the holiest of the holy as to why they created policies which led this nation to this day? Who – and I am not taking about any individual figure for individuals have just been pawns – was responsible for putting Pakistan on the path of destruction? Who created these proxies?

If their creation was meant to benefit Pakistan, then why have we lost over 50,000 citizen and sustained loss of billions of dollars in the past one decade alone? How much extra budget has been allocated due to this policy over the past four decades and what is the opportunity cost, both in economic and social terms?

If this policy has been a failure, would this nation now finally lay the blame where it’s due? It’s a pity that we are still so paranoid that we look towards same old ghosts for redemption. The same ghosts who are the primary reason for putting us in this hell.

December 16 has had its own bitter memory, and this latest incident would only compound our miseries.

The last time December 16 cast its dark shadows on this nation, the ones at the helm of affairs tried to hide behind shabby nationalistic campaign and sold a security narrative as an only solace for the miseries of the holy land. Instead of looking at our shortcomings and addressing those problems which led the discontent to a level where our follow brethren opted to part ways and make their separate identity, we continued to tread the same old path.

Ignored our social and economic issues. Fed masses empty promises and lousy populist slogans. Faith was used to symbolise the progress, ignoring the basic principles of faith. Humanity was and will always remain at the core of every faith. The policy makers, both de facto and de jure, forgot that education and pluralism will make us strong. Piling up imported weapons will not.

Today, Pakistan is mourning, there wouldn't be a single soul who would've slept without praying for the deceased and their beloved ones, or condemning those sick heads who committed this heinous crime. But remorse alone won't solve the issue. We'll have to look at the causes of this incident. The causes are clear and well documented. We should have the courage to accept that the demons haunting us today were made, pampered and raised by us.

Zarb-e-Azb, Khyber-One, etc are meaningless if we don't resolve today that we have left the age of warmongering and proxies behind. If we still consider that such incidents are part of a global conspiracy against us and that we don't have any role in the mayhem, rest assured, we will keep experiencing December 16s time and time again.

Ban and apprehend everyone, who utters even a single word against the set of beliefs of fellow citizen. Boycott those preachers who give more time preaching about jihad and the life hereinafter than teaching human rights, humility, love for education, exploration and compassion. How ignorant of us, that we claim to be followers of a religion of mercy and compassion, but always get ready to slaughter others on even a trivial difference of approach towards faith?

Mr Prime Minister, Gen Shareef, it looks so encouraging that you reached Peshawar in solidarity with our children. But will empty slogans and media talk be enough to eliminate the epidemic? Is there any change in policy? Will you do anything to change the national narrative?

Do you gentlemen really think avoiding basic amenities to masses, denying them education, health, equal economic opportunities and continuously violating their equal status as a citizen while only concentrating on military means really solve the issue?

Inequality can never breed equality. Subjecting masses to unending poverty is worst form of cruelty. Don't expect that this cruelty will deliver tolerance or your military clout will conquer minds and hearts of discontent populace. You are responsible for exposing people to ignorance, and if you don't eliminate ignorance, don't expect things to get better. You are our shepherds and you will be held responsible for the choices that you are making today. Choices that suit your and your respective clan's interests. Interests that are directly conflicting to those of the 180 million plus sons and daughters of Indus Valley.

How can we forget the role played by respectable clergy in the madness that we are experiencing today? They are the one who entice people at first place to violate laws of the land, always lambasting this evil and un-Islamic system. Always preaching their followers that they have moral and spiritual high grounds, while those who even slightly differ from their thinking are entitled to worst treatment possible.

Will our clergy leave its ultra cautious and passive approach while condemning such instances? Don't they have courage to come out and denounce such acts outright? What holds them back when everyone sees that these acts are not motivated by faith but mere political gains? Can't they inform people that those who retort to violence, to not do so for faith? Isn't this blasphemy on their part that a handful of madmen are hijacking Islam and they don't have moral courage to confront it? And then they pray for martyrdom?

December 16 will always be remembered. It will continue to haunt us for rest of our lives. But there is always an opportunity in adversity. And blessed are those who cease their opportunities.

Condemnations, showing grief and remorse will not help. It never does. It's time for us as a nation to resolve that we will abandon the old failed ways and thoughts which have led us to this state. Violence, in every form is to be denounced, no matter how promising the outcome may be. Let's focus on our own state of affairs instead of continuously questioning others lifestyles and principles. Let's start trusting and respecting each other. We are all a one big family. We can't afford to lose the remaining half our homeland to the barbarian mercenaries who question our faith.

Tailpiece: Dear Imran Khan, we all respect you, in fact we adore you, but even Nawaz Sharif’s resignation won't have stopped them from killing our children. Policies formulated by a government elected through fair and transparent polls, truly representing the constituents, would surely have. Concentrate on that, replacing one clown with another won't change the fate of our nation, lest you also choose to be one.

Ars Mustafa is an Islamabad-based social activist and freelance writer