Never forget, we said. A few months down the line, those who promised to implement the NAP went into a deep slumber. Perhaps they took ‘NAP’ too literally. These people wake up once in a while, particularly on the heart-wrenching day that is 16 December. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) gave a rather strange statement in this regard: “The great sacrifice of our innocent beloved children and their brave families remains unforgettable”. Equally, if not more, strange was the statement that came from Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif: “The successes Pakistan achieved in eliminating terrorism are owed to the sacred blood of our children martyred in APS… They brought this nation together and gave us direction”. Before I even attempt to delve into the mess that is our mindset, as represented through the aforementioned statements, a review and short recap of some facts is in order. On 30 January 2015, sixty-one people were killed in an attack on an Imambargah in Shikarpur. On 13 May 2015, forty-five people were killed in Safoora Chowrangi, Karachi. On 27 March 2016, seventy-four people were slaughtered during Easter celebrations in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Lahore. On 8 August 2016, another seventy-four human lives were taken in a terrorist attack on Civil Hospital, Quetta. On October 24 2016, the attack on the Police Academy in Quetta saw 61 people murdered as a result of twin suicide attacks. Then came the attack in Shah Noorani, Khuzdar where fifty-two people were killed. Following this was the horrific attack on the shrine of Shahbaz Qalandar on 16 February 2017, resulting in the death of eighty-eight people.The parents of the APS victims never signed up for this sacrifice, and it is heartless to tell them every year that their children died for Pakistan while we bow down to those responsible for not only killing their children but attacking whoever they deem ‘easy targets’ with nauseating impunityLet’s bear in mind that the NAP was laid down in January 2015, which means that all the attacks listed above took place after the State assured its terrified, helpless citizenry that a change in policy was coming — that the blank cheque surrender of our civil liberties through acceptance of military courts would not be in vain; that the children who we put in coffins would be the last of us to go. We lifted the moratorium on the death penalty; we justified the unjustifiable, be it the use of the death penalty on juvenile offenders, or the attitude that brought us to the point where we felt military courts were necessary to begin with.I have no doubt in my mind that much like the rest of us, the families of the martyrs at APS are tired of hearing the usual empty rhetoric: “your sacrifices changed this country”; “your sacrifices will be honoured”. This is the same rhetoric that is shamelessly regurgitated every time a brave jawaan has to put his life on the line for a State that refuses to learn from its mistakes. What direction are we headed in when Hafiz Saeed roams free? What state do we expect to see Pakistan in five years down the line when, in the present, there is talk of Ehsanullah Ehsan’s release? What sacrifices have we honoured if the only way we believe in ‘honouring’ our martyrs is through this pointless, absolutely futile lip service, backed by no concrete action or shift in policy towards those who put us at risk? Should children have to die or become ‘martyrs’ to begin with? When a child walks into a school, he or she doesn’t ask the State to put him or her down in its history books as a martyr for the greater good of Pakistan (even less so the case when that ‘good’ is unidentifiable). When a child is sent with a backpack of books to study science or English, he or she doesn’t sign upto die in a terrorist attack, in the aftermath of which his or her family will hear the response: “thank you for your sacrifice”. None of these parents signed up for this sacrifice, and it is heartless to tell them every year that their children died for Pakistan while we bow down to those responsible for not only killing their children but attacking whoever they deem “easy targets” with nauseating impunity.Following the tragic Sandy Hook massacre, British Journalist Dan Hodges commented: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over”. The same is true for Pakistan vis-à-vis APS. We will condone and justify being taken hostage in our own country by fanatics because we are too scared to stand firm against misuse of religion, rampant radicalisation and a policy of appeasement towards those who have declared openly and loudly that they will continue to target our schools, hospitals, and state institutions. We are too terrified to disown our “strategic assets” who may be of “benefit” to us in Kashmir (those elements which only hinder the indigenous struggle for self-determination there). Three years after APS, we have not changed — we have only gotten better at fooling ourselves. Shame on us for lying to ourselves and shame on us for believing this incredibly pointless hyper-nationalist rhetoric is going to make a difference. If APS had changed us, maybe we could have turned around and said, with an incredibly heavy heart, that sacrifices in this country are honoured. But the tragic, glaring reality is: we have not changed and perhaps, we never will at this rate. George Bernard Shaw rightly observed: “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time”. How can we say we have succeeded when we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over? The writer is a lawyerPublished in Daily Times, December 19th 2017.