KARACHI -- Tuesday's terrorist attack on a military-run school in Peshawar has jolted the country. The government has come into action following the immense public outcry as the country buries the 148 murdered in cold blood by terrorists.
The public response towards this grisly incident has been very strong. Whomever I meet, and whomever I talk to, everyone is saying one thing: "hang them." Such is the pain among the masses. We saw large public gatherings in the city condemning the perpetrators and demanding justice for the bereaved families.
As I was traveling home today, I saw a few boys chanting slogans against the Tehreek-e-Taliban and holding placards saying "Crush TTP."
Pakistan has seen many horrific incidents over the years, and Peshawar -- the largest city of Pakistan's northwestern province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa -- has suffered the most.
"The blood of our children will not be allowed to go in vain."
In 2013, twin suicide bombings in a church claimed dozens of lives in Peshawar, and some months later, another terrorist act claimed as many lives. And the latest incident, the school massacre killing innocent, defenseless children, has shocked the whole country. From Karachi to Gilgit-Baltistan, the whole nation has reacted and given its verdict: the blood of our children will not be allowed to go in vain.
This fervor forced the national political leadership, at last, to huddle together like a team for the first time and find a solution to save the country -- so much so that the prime minister issued a new warning to the terrorists. In a statement issued from the PM House, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated "firm resolve to continue the military operation Zarb-e-Azb in the wake of the attack on the Army Public School and College" in Peshawar.
In the last decade or so, more than 25,000 civilians and security personnel have lost their lives in the ongoing terrorism gnawing at the roots of the country. But all we did was condemn these attacks, put them behind us and move on. Until it happened again, only to repeat the cycle.
But we have heard all this before. This time mere lip service will not be acceptable; the nation demands concrete steps. Our future generations will never forgive us if we do not act now.
The barbarous targeted attack on helpless children has done what a decade of terrorism couldn't -- Pakistan reacted venomously. The outpouring of grief for the victims and their families from across the country, the region and world has changed the very paradigm of how terrorism has been tackled by the government.
"We couldn't save the 132 children, but at least we can execute the terrorists without delay."
The prime minister called for an All Parties Conference in Peshawar on Dec. 17, in which all the leaders vowed to eliminate terror from the country.
The whole nation waits to see whether the prime minister and other leaders live up to their promises of first punishing the terrorists that are already behind bars.
No excuses will be tolerated this time; Pakistan wants to see real action. Our security forces go to great lengths to capture terrorists during military operations, but their hard work is wasted because a large number are not even charged and are released after some time.
The much hyped counterterrorism policy is gathering dust in a file somewhere. This is the time to put it into action.
Even the military spokesman rightly pointed out in a presser on Dec. 16 that the courts and government need to step up to support the efforts of the armed forces.
We owe it to Peshawar's martyrs that perpetrators of the worst crimes against humanity be punished. We couldn't save the 132 children, but at least we can execute the terrorists without delay.