It’s been two years since the poignant APS Peshawar incident. The entire nation still mourns the loss of innocent lives. What made this tragedy hard to forget was the fact that most of the victims were between eight and eighteen years of age. The international community sympathized with the families of the victims. This incident provided the civil and military establishment a chance to unite the entire nation against terrorism and launch a full scale war on terrorists in every nook and corner of the country. Soon after the attack, the Prime Minister, COAS, Intelligence officials and leaders of all political parties met in Islamabad. The political elite of Pakistan was given briefings by the top brass of Army and Intelligence agencies. A National Action Plan was devised to uproot the menace of terrorism. Committees were also formed to improve the coordination between the center and provinces. A vigorous operation was launched in North Waziristan which, according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), achieved a great deal of success. Before the APS Peshawar incident, many people used to support terrorist organizations and their leaders openly. After 16th December, 2014,  they cannot publicly adopt a soft paddling approach for a particular terrorist organization even though many of them still have a soft corner in their hearts for terrorists. The orthodox cleric of the Lal Masjid and his supporters are a perfect example of the people who sympathize with terrorists.

But it seems that over time, the focus of the government has shifted to domestic political issues. The parents (and the people of Pakistan) can never forget what happened to their young ones. According to a news report, the parents of the targeted students meet on the 16th of every month and mourn the death of their children. Furthermore, the parents of the 132 martyred students arrange a protest on the 16th of December against the authorities for not conducting a judicial inquiry and arresting those officials who were supposed to provide security to the school.

Apart from the North Waziristan Operation, there is still no sign that shows the seriousness of certain responsible elements of the state institutions to act against terrorists. What should frighten us (and probably some other like-minded Pakistanis) the most is the love hate affair between certain elements of state institutions and the ultra orthodox elements who were only accorded the status of bête noire for the well being of our society after the APS slaughter of 2014. Such an affair does not define the collective institutional approach but is yet maintained in an idiosyncratic manner . It is still a very precarious reality that an insider was involved in helping terrorists stage attack at General Head Quarters, Rawalpindi. However, the military establishment has recognized that the threat posed by terrorists must be dealt with seriously.

It has also realized explicitly that terrorists can be very harmful for our sovereignty. Our political elite, unfortunately, still has not understood this point clearly. It is really sad to see veteran politicians - who command the support of a lot of Pakistanis - chide FATA Reforms Bill and Women Rights Bill but never condemn a single act of terrorism.

Each political party has some leaders who have strong ties with groups indulged in orthodox terrorism. Due to the incompetence of our electoral system, many candidates aspiring to become MPs do everything they can so that large communities would pledge to vote in their favour. Most recently, the victory in elections of an independent candidate of an outlawed outfit whose very ancestors have the notoriety of forming an ultra orthodox outfit spewing sectarian venom, and a certain political party welcoming him in their ranks, shows that still there are segments in the society who support people belonging to terrorist organizations. Terrorists are not only hiding in Waziristan, they are everywhere. They are present in all four provinces. The operations launched by the military, however, have been largely restricted to KP and Karachi. Punjab still remains a safe haven for terrorist organizations who change their names constantly.

With CPEC projects underway, Pakistan needs to stabilize itself internally now more than ever, so as to create a favourable environment for investors from other countries aspiring to become a part of the mega project. To attain the confidence of the international community, it is necessary for the civil and military establishment to act against non-state actors irrespective of the fact that they were a strategic asset at one time. Without such steps, it is inevitable that attacks on our men, women and children will continue and we will continue to bury our loved ones and mourn them every single day for the rest of our lives.