Despair and dejection; a new day begins in Pakistan. Even the sun, it seems, is shying away from shining, convulsed by the horrors of two days ago. It wasn’t the first time that we woke up to the macabre reminder of a recent terrorist attack. But something is different in the air these days.

Amidst the cries and screams of a grieving, devastated nation, the number of dead keeps rising. Going by some news reports, nearly 150 lives have so far been lost, most of them children.

The Prime Minister, on Wednesday, ended the moratorium on the death penalty to execute terrorists on death row. Imran Khan has announced an end to his four month long movement against the government. Civil society has come out in large numbers to protest. Something is different in the air this time. This time, the movement is motivated by a different kind of rage.

The whole nation mourns with a cringe-worthy realization; the thought that something tremendously precious has been lost to us forever. A realization that the children who left for school that morning are never coming back; the idea that we did nothing, for all these years, to save them and to avoid the carnage that trasnpired.

It wasn’t always like this. The Pakistan of my nostalgia was a different country. Where peace and order and security wasn’t an abnormal phenomenon. Where we stepped out of our homes without doubting our lives. Where children could venture out safely, and return. It wasn’t always like this. We were a tolerant polity. We did not consider co-existence an optional idea, or an elective. We used to be a proud nation, with respect for human life and human dignity. But somewhere, some time, we decided to collectively surrender ourselves to hate, and utter humiliation. We systematically strategised this hate, and we used it in the world, because in the imaginations of powerful men, that violence could prove us right; it could win us great wars and great favours. And slowly, it began to engulf us, as hate is wont to do. It became so normal, that we became desensitised to it. Bodies fell, blood spilled, and we became harder and harder to shake.

This intolerance and hatred that we allowed to perpetuate, transformed into the monster that killed our children on 16 Dec. Some would say it all began with Zia’s misadventure in the Afghan Jihad. Some would say it began with Musharraf’s participation in America’s war on terror. Some would say it is due to the Madrassas. Some would say it is because of the drone attacks. We have mastered the art of shifting blames. But when we look around, we should know exactly who is responsible.

In the murder of those 140 children, all of us have our share of blame. Every political leader we voted into power, who slept in his fortified mansion knowing that the children of his nation were not secure. Every military general who funded a militant group to fight the ‘enemy’. Every scholar who vindicated hatred. Every journalist who uttered words to defend extremists. Every Imam who sat on his pulpit and propagated intolerance. And all of us who condoned the things happening around us with our silence.

For a nation numb to hate, for a nation apathetic to murder, perhaps only something so shocking could move us. Well, are we moved yet?

The news tells me that our military and political leadership is now united and ready to go to any extents to eliminate those responsible for these barbaric act. Their statements, however, feel redundant. Their hollow vows and ineffective pledges have failed to save us. The only promising thing is that we now stand united in demanding action from them. We now know that something has become fundamentally wrong with our society and that it needs to be fixed. We now know that we have lost this country to the hate we nursed. We now know that we need to take it back. We are moved. Yes, yes, at last we are moved.

The writer is a student and teaching assistant at LUMS.