The All Parties Conference (APC) convened by the government following the tragedy in Peshawar was attended by all major political parties including the ANP, the JUI-F, the PPP, the PTI and others. In order to effectively counter terrorism in Pakistan, it is important for the government to gain the support of as many political parties as possible.

Could the language have been stronger? Yes. Should the political leaders, especially the PM and Imran Khan, have taken the trouble to name the killers (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) of this nation’s children? Yes. Their reluctance is understandable but it is unacceptable. That being said, not everything went bad at the APC. PM Nawaz Sharif said that the country would cease to discriminate between good and bad Taliban, and would ensure the elimination of all terrorists. The need to take countrywide action against militants was acknowledged, and a decision was made to form a committee headed by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan to devise a plan and submit its report in a week. Interior Minister’s poor record in dealing with the TTP makes him anything but the ideal personality to lead the effort, but it is hoped that he will be assisted and kept in line by other members of the committee, which includes military and intelligence officials.

At this time, it is tempting to be swayed by, and to believe, the right words. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has promised action against all militants. Does that include LeJ, the Quetta Shura and other groups, many amongst them who roam the streets freely and enjoy state patronage? Is the military finally on board? If so, what will become of Hafiz Saeed and JuD? The jihadi philanthropist has been trying his best to convince people that India is behind the attack, of course. Is he acting on his own or following directions? It was interesting to see the protest in Islamabad where JuD members stood on one side and the rest of civil society and political parties on the other. One side doesn’t want anyone’s children to be victims and the other doesn’t mind if they are Indian. This ideological difference is irreconcilable. And what does the state plan to do about Maulana Abdul Aziz of burka fame? The lunatic refuses to condemn the murder of children, now supports ISIS and advocates terrorism against the state. Will he be taken out of the Red Mosque and thrown in jail where he belongs? These are tough questions that need to be answered, tough decisions that need to be made. Is the state capable and willing? We’ll know soon enough.