While the shock of the attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 has faded for many, the nightmare continues for the parents and families of the children and teachers that fell victim to terrorist vengeance. The trauma of losing a child can never be treated, and not cash nor plots will ever make up for what these parents have gone through.

The parents have criticised the federal government for its failure to order a judicial probe into the terrorist attack and have warned that they will return the cash compensation and residential plots of land if their demands were not met. Their demands for justice, for seeing perpetrators punished is not unreasonable and their anger is justified.

On Saturday, a seven-member committee of the parents led by lawyer Fazal Khan said that law-enforcement agencies were pressuring the parents to stop raising further demands. These parents have also been asked to stop protesting as they had already accepted compensation. It is unfortunate that their sorrow is seen as having a monetary value, especially by the government. It makes sense that they want to return the handouts if the cash means that the state will not form a judicial probe.

The APS attack forced the government to come up with the National Action Plan (NAP) to tackle extremism, but NAP failed to satisfy much of the population. While four of the six attackers were hanged under military court rulings in 2015, the APS parents are right to demand a further probe into the failing of intelligence and security that allowed APS to be a target. This was one of the first questions raised in 2014 after the attack by many, and it still goes unanswered.

The mental anguish of the parents cannot be over emphasised, and their pain cannot be brushed aside. If Pakistan is to become a country where compassion and tolerance are to survive, all efforts and more must be made to protect those who have already suffered. Can the civilian government and military establishment, almost two years after the attack, argue that it has done its utter best? Were more innocent families not ripped apart in attacks at Charsadda University in January, Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Lahore in March and Quetta in August? The first quarter of 2016 saw a sharp rise in terrorist attacks across Pakistan. Did the government and military not promise that this would never happen again and that they would never forget?

These parents want some peace of mind and closure with the knowledge that the state will sincerely investigate the matter and it must be given to them. The APS parents are not asking favours from the government, but only that it do its job. And that is what all of Pakistan is asking of the government as well.