Like every other crisis, the aftermath of this one has also tilted the civil-military balance of public approval towards the mighty M. Thanks to the optics adopted by the strongmen after the tragedy, they have constructed themselves as the only and most serious institution of the country in dealing with the terror menace. A travelling cat comes to mind with 900 mice and a holy destination. But then, one gives them the benefit of doubt. Maybe they are serious now? Maybe a new leadership means a new thinking and new approach?

Rushing to Afghanistan to seek cooperation to get Mullah Fazlullah, the chief of terrorists’ staff, was a good move. It’s just that the Afghan Army Chief later explained that Fazlullah’s name did not even come to discussion. Understandable. If this name had come up a few other names from the good guys would have come out too.

What followed the tragedy was a collective national quest for blood and the appeasement of that public rage through another brilliant move. The Government was asked to hang the criminals on death row under military courts, despite the law of the land, which does not allow the head of the military to sign the death warrants of civilians.

No wonder most of those who got hanged in the past one week had offended the mighty ones, be it the attack of GHQ or the attack on the former military dictator Pervez Musharraf. One wonders where is Muslim Khan the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi spokesperson who got arrested after Swat military operation?

One wonders, that if a phone call by the APS attackers can be intercepted why the umpteen phone calls of Ehsanullah Ehsan, the TTP spokesperson can’t be traced? Calls that he regularly makes to journalists. Even an oversized ‘liberal Allama’ who claims to be on very close terms with the ‘brass’ also claims he has direct contact with Ehsan. Strange set of common friends.

Gone are the days when we would see huge outcry on every drone strike in Pakistan’s FATA by the US. There used to be big dharnas against these strikes. This was despite the admission by General Ghayyur Mehmood, the then GoC 7 Corps, that most of the victims of drone strikes were foreign militants. But media and ‘like-minded’ politicians went along because army wanted it so. The recent drone attacks, however, are not bothering anyone. The good and bad dichotomy is not just about the Taliban. Even the drone strikes have this division.

At the end of the day, it is all about narrative. When one would earnestly want the entire nation to be on one page to shun all terrorists, all militants – without the good and the bad dichotomy – one sees establishment-fostered elements once again confusing the nation. And “what-aboutry” is once again in vogue. If Peshawar tragedy is being mourned what about the kids who died in drones? If this is a tragedy then what about the millions killed by America? What favor has the establishment done to the country by tacitly butchering the national consensus against militancy?

Symptoms – and only just some of them – are being taken care of amidst public applause. Those who pulled the trigger on our kids have all died. Those who planned the massacre are still at large. On the day of the massacre, Khurasani claimed the responsibility. Hints about Omar Mansoor being the mastermind was leaked to media. Two days later, the media was told the mastermind was Mangal Bagh. Security establishment, it seems, is still deciding who did it.

If hangings of random convicted men are seen as an effective measure to reclaim state writ, we are truly messed up. When Mullah Abdul Aziz (Maulana should not be the title here) roars in his Friday sermon and threatens the state of Pakistan with suicide bombings in case he is arrested in response to civil society demands, the writ of the state is already dead.

The writ of the state is dead when proscribed militant organizations hold rallies and state is not bothered. The AhlusSunnahwalJamaah (ASWJ) has its name in the proscribed National Counter Terrorism Authority list but the Islamabad police is unaware of the ban. This organization is not only given full freedom to propagate its violent discourse but is also protected by the state institutions. The day when we were to offer Juma prayers in front of Lal Masjid as a symbolic gesture, our way was blocked, while the ASWJ held its hurriedly announced demonstration at the same place, same time. State writ?

Ehsanullah Ehsan makes a phone call to threaten Jibran Nasir, one of the organizers of the civil society protests, but the state can’t do anything. Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, another militant organization close to Al-Qaida, was banned by Pakistan but its founder Hafiz Saeed is still allowed to work freely with his headquarter at Muridke. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian militant organization still kills Shias with impunity and freedom. Sipah Sahaba Pakistan, the mother of ASWJ, works freely despite being proscribed and calls the killers of children martyrs. The state doesn’t move. The Interior Minister calls majority of Taliban non-militants and decrees that 99% of Madrassas do not fan extremism. What state writ are we talking about?

Coming to the pro-militant discourse by the political elite, one can recall statements by like-minded politicians that undermined state’s action on militancy. Imran Khan, arguably the most popular Pakistani leader at the moment, once said that it wasjust propaganda that the Taliban destroyed schools. Nothing of this sort happened and Taliban were rather fighting for freedom from America, he had said before suggesting that the Taliban be given an office as part of confidence building measures.

Not to forget what Shahbaz Sharif said in 2010 about Taliban a having similar ideology as of his party and thus should spare Punjab from their attacks. Munawwar Hassan, former Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami had called the militants martyrs while refusing to call Pakistan Army soldiers martyrs.

When it comes to the trials of the militants, the blame is usually put on judiciary for acquitting them, which in turns points to weak prosecution for convictions. The prosecutors say intelligence agencies remove all the circumstantial evidence. But judges have their own responsibility to take. During the era of so called ‘azad adliyah’, the judiciary was injected with extremist elements with ideological ties with militants. The honorable exceptions from amongst the judges would be eliminated by terrorist organizations with impunity. And it goes on.

Fooling the nation through cosmetic measures of assorted hangings is not in anyone’s interest. If you want to be seen doing something to protect innocent citizens, start working on the real problem. Hangings are not long-lasting measures nor would they impact militancy. Terrorism doesn’t die with death sentences. If indeed you are serious, start clearing your backyard of snakes.

The writer is an Islamabad based freelance columnist. She can be contacted at marvisirmed@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter