Post 12/16 Pakistan should have been a place where all and gentry were united against the common enemy, extremism in all its forms. However, we instead resorted to same shabby tactics of ours which brought us to the nadir of our existence at first place.

Our parliamentarians are holding marathon sessions to brainstorm strategy to stem out extremism and terrorism. Most faces in the committee formed for the purpose are seasoned politicians and have been around the constitutional avenue for over a decade.

May we just ask these fine gentlemen, what the state has been doing with tax payers’ money while fighting terrorists if it didn't have any strategy in the first place? If the strategy was there, what were the loopholes in that strategy and who was responsible? The           reform of madarassas and singling out those who are directly affiliated with extremist groups has been done before. Why a renewed effort? If the previous one was a failure, did we hold someone responsible for that?

Accountability is essence of democracy. What sort of system do we have in vogue if we ignore most blatant errors by successive decision makers due to political constraints? And most importantly, for how long do we think we can carry on like that?

We are a strange nation, destruction and blood comforts us. To avenge the merciless killings of innocent children, we opted to send dozens of innocents to gallows. Pakistan has one of the most wonky justice systems in the world. Don't we know how biased we are from lodging First Investigation Report (FIR) in police station till last appeal in the Supreme Court? Knowing that, we lifted the moratorium on capital punishment and its execution. Exception was made by clarifying that only terrorists would be hanged. Granted, but what is the justification of starting with those who were involved in the attacks on an ex COAS? Why is a sitting COAS signing the death warrants? And what about granting bail to Lakhvi at the same time?

Moving to the masses, here we have 150 odd small coffins and there goes the great debate chastising a particular school of thought because some members of it deflected the peaceful means of expression and took up arms. Can that make any school of thought extremist? Looks like people were waiting for something catastrophic to unleash their venom and hatred.

Divide, that’s what every enemy wishes in the opposition ranks and so far, Taliban have been very successful in their pursuit. So if they eventually succeed one day, we shall be the ones who helped them for providing them a scattered front to fight.

Post 12/16 Pakistan should've been different. Post 12/16 Pakistan should have been a place where all and gentry were united against the common enemy, extremism in all its forms. Not just militancy or a single school of thought but in all its different manifestations. Pakistan should've been a place where nation was united to end ignorance towards religion and its basic principles.

It's disappointing to see that instead of uniting us under one flag, the Peshawar incident is further dividing us on petty sectarian lines. The discontent shown by civil society and people from different walks of life towards extremist views is commendable. Yet some apologists are still trying to justify use of force which should be discouraged. We will have to identify these apologists and neutralized immediately.

It appears that we may be condemning the incident but we are not sure about its causes. We, as a society, must understand that it’s not the variant views of Islam or a certain school of thought which is responsible for extremism but it's our collective social system. A social system with inherent class differentiation compounded by centuries of ignorance and ineptness of successive regimes to stem out illiteracy, this society is not receptive to or driven by knowledge, instead, it's driven by wealth which delivers power. And we believe in "end defines means" rule, so wealth accumulated through any means will help our cause. This debate can be extended to many more facets and dimensions. Extremism, in its current state is just a tip of the iceberg. It’s our collective social system which needs to be redesigned if we wish to proceed further.

We will have to understand that fighting extremism is not an option anymore; it's our sole hope for survival. And this cannot be done by government alone. The society in general and our intelligentsia in particular, must step up their pursuit for a clear definition of extremism and its causes. We must determine the role of illiteracy in giving extremist thought a conducive environment to grow? We will have to find out how we can redesign our syllabus to make pupil more pluralist and pragmatic. We will have to answer how much the folklore and fairytales, that clergy feeds our ears every week, have their role in making us paranoid and schizophrenic? And we shall have to answer how masses then either drift to outright rebellion by taking up arms or associating themselves with weed smoking, drum beating spiritual healers?

The state and this society must start delivering so we have trust in the system, its functions, their efficiency and effectiveness. When society will become receptive and responsive, only then we can stop people from taking up arms or dwelling upon ignorant spirituality.

Ars Mustafa is an Islamabad-based social activist and freelance writer