December remains a gloomy month in Pakistan. From the fall of Dhaka to the massacre of innocent children at the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar; our history is marked with profound tragedies in the month of December, apart from the blunders which take place around the year. This cold and dark month is notorious for bringing out despair worldwide. So much so that it had to be lit up through the custom of Christmas, a happy custom that was recently bloodied by the terrorist attack on a Methodist Church in Quetta. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Pakistan remains one of the countries with the highest number of terror related fatalities. We have suffered 62,928 causalities in the past 17 years. A large number of these causalities are minorities. Though, the APS incident of December 2014 remains the most brutal till now. The habit of portraying people subjected to an untimely death as a result of these bombings as martyrs is perplexing. No one goes to a church, mosque, bazaar or school to become a martyr. This cloak of martyrdom is shamelessly used to diminish state failures to protect its people. Daily bombings were also taking place on the other side of the western border during the Zia era. In its naiveté, the Pakistani public believed we were fighting a just war and it would remain outside our borders. We were proven very wrong. Resultantly, our children are now exposed to terror related violence and bloodshed. We have used religion as a tool of convenience to craft out our national and foreign policies. Terrorism and the death ridden landscape of Pakistan are the disastrous consequences of this foolish approach. A question that often baffles concerned Pakistani citizens and the international community that nervously follow bizarre developments in our nuclear empowered Pakistan. That question is “What is wrong with Pakistan”. We have used religion as a tool of convenience to craft our national and foreign policies. Terrorism and the death ridden landscape of Pakistan are the disastrous consequences of this foolish approach Pakistan is a country created through charismatic leadership and a political party that changed the course of history was derailed from its promising path and thrown into a pit of chaos. What went wrong? There have been papers and books written on the topic on where we went wrong and we are still a thousand miles away from reaching the right answer to this question. There have been many nations who completely wrecked themselves. Germany turning Nazi can be quoted as an example. But most of these countries could steer themselves away from the iniquitous paths of oblivion. Pakistan shows glimpses of promise occasionally spinning out of sane control. The question that needs to be asked now is not what went wrong with us but what is wrong in us. From the ideology debate which has remained ongoing since the creation of Pakistan to our concurrent and persistent memory loss, the story of Pakistan is an eerily similar and unpredictable cycle of disappointments marked by periodical highs of elusive promising policies. Policies that are big on words and small on actions. Pakistan’s creation was opposed by all renowned Islamic parties of British India. The inheritors of the same parties are now leading wars in name of existence of Pakistan, cowing down the democratic government of Pakistan through blockades and destruction. Pakistan grapples (mostly unsuccessfully) with violence unleashed by Islamic extremists. Recently we bowed down to a mob blocking the capital city on the pretext of religion. The systematic oppression of minorities through bias and violence has become the norm. From Ahmedis to Christians and Hindus to Sikhs, unfortunately no minority feels safe in Pakistan. They are constantly subjected to forced marriages and violent attacks apart from other heinous crimes. It is not just the blood thirsty fundamentalist that threatens the very existence of non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan. The hatred and reluctance to accept minorities as our equals is visible through the attitude of the ordinary Pakistani. It is the ordinary Pakistani that has become intolerant. This can be seen through the refusal to share the same utensils with our Christian employees who very honourably do the unfortunate task of cleaning our sewers and collecting our garbage. Mainly, because we have closed many other professional doors for them. Our abhorrence to the ‘other’ is also visible through many other unfortunate actions, such as this one I saw firsthand. A few years ago an elderly couple, one of the very few from Pakistan’s Goan Christian community was living in the Cantt area of Rawalpindi. Being my friends, one day they called me frantically for help. When I reached their humble house, I witnessed a very educated man from the community writing kafir on their front door. These non-Muslim friends of mine were patriots. They chose to stay in Pakistan when everyone in their family was telling them to leave this intolerant country. In the end, they had to, because harassing them became a daily ritual for their ‘respectable’ neighbours. The malevolence within us takes pleasure in the pain of those who are foreign to us. There is something very wrong with our society’s mentality. A number of factors ranging from our constitutional adventures to the media has contributed in our way of life. Noone wants to remember that the hardcore religious parties opposed Pakistan. Ironically since the inclusion of the objective resolution, religion has become our weapon of choice when dealing with dissent. It is high time we stop searching for the reasons of our misfortunes outside. We must delve into ourselves to deal with our truths. The time is now. The writer is a policy practitioner, an Oxford public policy alumnus and Oxford Global leadership initiative fellow Published in Daily Times, December 23rd 2017.