Five years or fifty, the wounds of December 16 2014 will never heal properly. 144 innocent lives snuffed out on a chilly winter morning, 144 families devastated for an eternity in an instant. The Army Public School Peshawar attack cannot be forgotten - and for the salvation of Pakistan it should never be.

Every year the pain reminds us of what we have lost; it reminds us of what we can yet lose; it reminds us of the oath we have made. Nothing will be able to bring back the joy that the parents of the slain 144 lost, but we as a nation can begin by delivering swift and righteous retribution. It was heartening to see the nation unite in grief, and then, unite in resolve. The entire nation, from the military to the politicians all the way down to the common man decided that the scourge of terrorism must end once and for all. Five years later we can see the result of that iron conviction.

Countless militants and their hideouts in Pakistan and beyond were wiped out, their networks dismantled, their remnants neutralized. Terrorist attacks have declined dramatically; our remote regions are safe for travel again. Cities which were paralyzed by fear can now hold public events in an air of safety. Pakistan, once considered a violence-stricken pariah in the community of nations, is now looking to rebuild itself towards peace and prosperity with the support of the world behind it.

The oath the nation took on December 16 can be dutifully obeyed, but never discharged. This solemn duty, to make sure another APS never happens again, to make sure innocent children are never targeted again; is a never ending burden. We must forever be vigilant, forever remorseful for what we have lost, and forever united against terrorism. May the families of the 144 victims find peace.