As a nation we have time and again failed to learn from our mistakes. Absence of meaningful political ownership is a major cause of continuing tragedies leading to uncertainty and a mindset ignoring the ugly truth. Rationalizing the wrongs will not do any good. We need to unite for the country’s future and fight against extremism. This hard task requires clear perceptions and giving up of personal agendas, which overshadow national needs and objectives. Without a uniform national outlook and without putting our own house in order we cannot even think of eliminating the enemy within and without.

The Peshawar devastation brought back memories of how our own follies contributed to the enemy’s deliberate effort to target the state of Pakistan. December 16 was also the anniversary of the dismemberment of a united Pakistan in 1971. The enemy continues to spread terrorism in Pakistan with its illegal military presence in Afghanistan.

The civil and military administration has to be on the same page to effectively tackle individuals manipulating networks, state institutions to create instability. The mastermind and the real culprits behind terrorism and extremism are never brought to justice. Those who are caught or killed are the suicide bombers forced into the war against groups of innocent people, institutions or the state. More often the enemy has used highly skilled gunmen in support of suicide bombers to supplement the impact of explosions so as to cause maximum damage.

The real culprits are a ‘state within a state’. What they call revenge is part of their strategy to grab political power and to become masters of the destiny of the peaceful people of Pakistan. In frustration and utter desperation the terrorists have killed our innocent children and the future of our nation. We need to be vigilant.

It is time that we hang all militants relaxing in our prisons. And this should be done openly and publically without any fear. Our armed forces are already on this job but the civilian institutional networks have also to gear up to work more effectively and efficiently.

Law should come into action. Lifting the moratorium on death penalty is an opportunity to curb terrorism. Outcry from rights groups for example has been and will be a problem. European Union (EU) officials have already indicated that if Pakistan resumed executions it could jeopardize a highly prized trade deal with the EU. Pakistan’s leadership needs courage to handle the issue and decide what is ultimately in Pakistan’s national interest. In obvious and clear cases there should be no delay in implementation.

EvenIf Kabul fails to help, we will wipe out the terrorists. It is a good sign that PTI Chief Imran Khan says “they are all one against terrorists”. The Army Chief General Raheel Sharif held meetings with the Afghan President and ISAF Commander in Kabul and shared with them the evidence related to the Peshawar massacre’s linkage with the TTP sanctuaries in Kunar and Nuristan provinces. COAS warned Afghan authorities to take decisive action against the TTP sanctuaries. The mastermind behind the Peshawar attack, Taliban commander Umar Naray from Afghanistan was giving directives to the assailants. Pakistan has sought Kabul’s help in order to extradite Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Chief Mullah Fazlullah who is wanted for terrorism cases in Pakistan. Pak-Afghan joint hunt for Fazlullah is on the cards. Meanwhile the US President Barack Obama has assured unwavering support for Pakistan. The all Pakistan Conference (APC) in Peshawar and the Prime Minister’s Press Conference after the APC indicated a healthy change in attitudes and a positive improvement in political environment.

The Taliban or whoever are the killers of our children and our future must be punished for the sake of peace. Strategic long range planning and short term measures are needed to address our national security concerns and the ever emerging ugly crisis situations. The National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) also needs to be organized and equipped to meet new challenges. Education is the only avenue that promises true humanity and empathy. Along with promoting education there is also need to civilize the tribal territories, federal or provincial, to convert these territories into functional district management units having established law-and-order institutions ensuring development and self-government. Gun-culture must end with prospects of peace and prosperity growing.

The writer is a former director NIPA, a political analyst, a public policy expert and an author. He can be contacted at iftahmad786@hotmail.com