The APS massacre shook the entire country to its very core, palpably changed the political climate and ushered in a new security paradigm by reinvigorating the fight against terrorism. On December 16, 2021, Pakistan marked the 7th anniversary of this most heartbreaking of tragedies. The attack that claimed the lives of 144 students and staff of the Peshawar school had left a deep scar on the psyche of the country. The tragedy that jolted the entire nation also proved to be a major turning point in the history of Pakistan. However, we must bear in mind that there is still a long way to go and this labyrinthine path is fraught with many dangers, some of which lie on the surface waiting to be discovered, and others much deeper.
While a lot has been said and done to attempt to alleviate the physical pain, the invisible scars of the surviving students and the families of the martyred still remain buried within them unhealed as they struggle to steady themselves against the tragedy that has wreaked havoc over their lives, changing everything they once knew to be true.
We need to begin by anchoring ourselves against the rapid developments that have taken place since the past seven years if we are to give those in grief any semblance of consolation, and focus on learning lessons from the tragedy. The government needs to make sure that no such incident can ever happen again. As the threat is far from abated as far as insurgency and counterterrorism are concerned. Hence while we remember the most unforeseeable horrific tragedy, there is a need to reiterate that what seems impossible can happen and has happened, and unless we learn and adopt tremendous vigilance in filling the gaps to prevent all possibilities of recurrence, we cannot truly put the tragedy behind us. Consequently, collectively the government, security and intelligence agencies, need to scrutinize their mechanisms and the nation itself needs to reanalyse how far it has come in obliterating the mindsets that can lead to such misfortune and how far it still has to go.